Re: Writing samples, post-interview

Subject: Re: Writing samples, post-interview
From: Frederique Courard-Hauri <fch -at- fchcomm -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 11:03:47 -0500

Kathi Jan Knill wrote:

> If I were asking for a writing sample, I would expect that the person who is
> confident of their work would provide it. In addition, if I were the
> interviewer and the interviewee refused to send a writing sample, I would
> automatically assume that the interviewee was not a good writer.
> As far as leaving portfolios unattended, I think that paranoia should be
> left out of it. It is common practice for interviewers to ask writers for
> samples. And, in my experience (limited it may be) I have never had nor
> heard of someone stealing technology based on a writing sample they
> received. And, note that I assume it is the technology, not your words, that
> you are worried about. Because after all, don't we all borrow phrases from
> other writers?

Sorry if my responses are off -- I didn't see the original post; but in reading
this response, I had some knee-jerk reactions. First, I agree with Kathi, I
have never heard of technology theft via writing sample, but what about the
non-disclosure agreements many of us have to sign before starting to work
(either permanent or contract)? Wouldn't breaking that be showing your
prospective employer that you may not be a very trustworthy person?

As to another poster who asked, If you don't trust them with your writing
samples, how can you trust them with your career? I would respond: If I don't
yet have an account with a bank, should I trust them to hold my money while I
go check out another bank's rates? Just because a group of people are
incorporated, doesn't mean they are the most trustworthy people in society.

> If you are currently working and have something in your portfoloio that is
> from your current place of employment, I would not send that. I think that
> is just a courtesy, although I could be wrong on that one.

But if, as writers, we are constantly improving our style and writing ability,
wouldn't our most recent work be more indicative of our current state of
professionalism? Sending older material would be like trying to get a senior
writing position based on your first-job quality work.

> Anyway, I have often sent writing samples and asked that they be sent back
> to me when the interviewer has finished with them. 100% of the time, if I
> did not get the job, the samples were sent back. (If I did get the job, the
> samples were given back on my first day of employment.)
> So, my opinion, go ahead and send the samples.

I bring my writing samples along with me TO THE INTERVIEW. Most of them are
bound, anyway, and I think it's often important for the interviewer to see the
whole package. I pass these samples to the interviewer(s) during the
interview, and invite them to take a look at them there & then. I always take
them back when they are finished with them. This way, they can get an idea for
the style and quality of the pieces, but since I'm not letting them pore over
them in detail, I feel I am not breaking any NDAs. Sure, this may be fudging a
bit, but it's not like I've worked for cutting edge spy-satellite technology,
either. I just think that not letting someone hold onto materials longer than
the interview time keeps me safe, and makes the interviewer happy because
they've seen my work.

Of course, if any of your work is on the web somewhere (a downloadable PDF, an
actual web page, etc), you can just direct the potential employer there.

Again, sorry if my slant was off, I didn't see the original.
Frederique Courard-Hauri FCH Communications
fch -at- fchcomm -dot- com

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