FWD: The writer who didn't work out

Subject: FWD: The writer who didn't work out
From: Anonymous Poster <anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 09:37:15 -0700 (MST)

This is an interesting thread. As the manager of a small documentation
department (was a group of three-including myself; is now a group of
four), I agree with Andrew that the interviewing process is a test for
both sides.

It is critical for the interviewer and the interviewee to take time to get
to know one another, and ask sufficient questions. As a new manager and an
interviewer, I've learned the hard way to ask probing enough questions
while still respecting the other person's privacy and not violating their
personal rights.

In the past two years I've had a couple of writers who "didn't work out";
one writer who after a year in my department, moved to another more
challenging position in the company; and one writer who after two years in
my department moved on to a more challenging position at another company
(one that was more techno and web-oriented). This last writer was a loss
for the company as she was very talented and dedicated.

As far as the two that didn't work out...one underestimated her technical
skills. I've since learned to be more specific in my questions about word
processing and graphic skills.

The other was a mess...I don't know how I could have found out in an
interview, some of the things I learned about her after I hired her. One
thing I did learn was to pay attention when someone says the reason
they're leaving their current position is because they're having personal
conflict with their current boss, partly because their current boss
micro-managed them. (That was eventually part of the reason this woman and
I began to have conflict. I "micro-managed" her...and for good reasons.)

After hiring this woman, I found out that she had an emotional disorder
for which she was being medicated. She also turned out to be deceitful and
unreliable. She missed work and left early on several occasions because
she was "too upset" to function (she used up her sick-leave before she was
out of her 90-day probationary period). She didn't take editorial comments
well, and had poor work habits. She spent a lot of time on the telephone;
surfing the Net; eating; and chit-chatting with other people in other
departments (to the point someone in another department complained). She
was friendly with the other woman in the department to her face, but
behind her back complained to me about how immature, selfish, and
self-centered this other writer was. With all this...I hadn't developed a
lot of trust, and managed her more closely.

Having been "burned" I'm more careful and am learning to hone my
interviewing skills. But, how can you possibly find out some of these
things in an interview? I think multiple interviews, telephone interviews,
group interviews, etc. can be helpful. They give the interviewer and the
interviewee lots of time to interact.

I think the more you can find out about a prospective company, and
employee, the better. Perhaps if the interviewer mentions the previous
writer "didn't work out", you might ask if they are willing to discuss
why. If they are, listen carefully to their answers. If not, perhaps they
would be open to you're interviewing others in the company (not a bad
thing to do, anyway) to get a flavor of the environment, and objective
opinions of your new potential employer and your position.

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