Re: The writer who didn't work out

Subject: Re: The writer who didn't work out
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 19:35:31 -0800 (PST)

> "I heard that the previous writer 'did not work out'. What were the problems
> that writer faced? How did the writer's source material, availability of
> subject matter experts, planning, coordination, and scheduling come into
> play--if at all--in the departure of that writer? What solutions would
> remedy the problems that the writer faced? Was the writer offered any
> solutions? If they get too detailed with personal information about that
> former employee, this will also give you a clue on their professionalism and
> well they respect that former employee's privacy...and quite possibly
> everyone else's privacy too!
> Yes, the interview is a test for *both* sides!

But not an inquisition. There is a fine line between asking about the company,
the environment, expectations, and work load and grilling them.

Grilling a prospective employer about a person who "didn't work out" is a
super-fast way to get your resume dumped in the garbage.

A) It isn't your business why the previous employee/contractor didn't work out.
The fact that the interviewer volunteered this information is merely a warning
that they have been burned and are probably going to be more careful with their

B) It is very likely the person who didn't work out was a moron. There are
metric tons of really bad writers out there who continue to brownnose their way
into jobs for which they are not qualified. If an interviewer told me a person
didn't work out, I would assume that the previous writer was a dolt. Give the
employer the benefit of the doubt. Sheesh, they called you, right? They can't
be *THAT* stupid.

C) If a company "scared off" a competent person, more than likely they will
reveal their problems in other discussions and questions. Grilling the
interviewer why a previous writer didn't work out is a mega lame way to find
out about the company.

The best way to impress interviewers is to remain focused on you, your
abilities, and what you can do for the company. If you want to ask questions,
try asking some that make you sound like more than a paranoid freak

Such as:

How formalized are their projects? How does the documentation fit into the
lifecycle of each product? Who is responsible for reviewing the docs? What is
the company's long term market goals? Who finances them? What avenues are their
for advancement?

If possible, ask a specific technical question - even if it is dumb. Like what
languages they use to develop the software, what databases they use, etc. This
makes you sound curious - which is good for a job that involves finding out
how/why things work.

If you ask about the company, their products, and their people - you are more
likely to get the interviewer babbling. Most people (especially engineers)
love to babble. You get an interviewer babbling you can often find out all
sorts of information about the company (including why they sacked the last
guy). However, the interviewer needs to connect with you to babble.

You come at an interviewer at full paranoid impulse, he'll throw up his shields
and phaser the crap out of you. Be gentle.

Lastly, don't jump to conclusions about the company, interviewer, or
documentation. Ohhh, it is so frustrating to interview people who assume they
understand everything after hearing six words. Lock up the ego, Hoss, and be a
cool cat.

Somewhere a meatball sub is being eaten by a nude man.

Andrew Plato
Not currently nude or eating a meatball sub.

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