Job interview: Wikis

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Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A job interview is a process in which a potential employee is evaluated by an employer for prospective employment in their company, organization, or firm. During this process, the employer hopes to determine whether or not the applicant is suitable for the job.

Contents

Role

A job interview typically precedes the hiring decision, and is used to evaluate the candidate. The interview is usually preceded by the evaluation of submitted résumés from interested candidates, then selecting a small number of candidates for interviews. Potential job interview opportunities also include networking events and career fairs. The job interview is considered one of the most useful tools for evaluating potential employees[1]. It also demands significant resources from the employer, yet has been demonstrated to be notoriously unreliable in identifying the optimal person for the job[2]. An interview also allows the candidate to assess the corporate culture and demands of the job.

Multiple rounds of job interviews may be used where there are many candidates or the job is particularly challenging or desirable. Earlier rounds may involve fewer staff from the employers and will typically be much shorter and less in-depth. A common initial interview form is the phone interview, a job interview conducted over the telephone. This is especially common when the candidates do not live near the employer and has the advantage of keeping costs low for both sides.

Once all candidates have been interviewed, the employer typically selects the most desirable candidate and begins the negotiation of a job offer.

Process

A typical job interview has a single candidate meeting with between one and three persons representing the employer; the potential supervisor of the employee is usually involved in the interview process. A larger interview panel will often have a specialized human resources worker. While the meeting can be over in as little as 15 minutes, job interviews usually last less than two hours.

The bulk of the job interview will entail the interviewers asking the candidate questions about his or her job history, personality, work style and other factors relevant to the job. For instance, a common interview question is "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. These questions are strongly encouraged since they allow the interviewee to acquire more information about the job and the company, but they can also demonstrate the candidate's strong interest in them.

Candidates for lower paid and lower skilled positions tend to have much simpler job interviews than do candidates for more prestigious positions. For instance, a lawyer's job interview will be much more demanding than that of a retail cashier. Most job interviews are formal; the larger the firm, the more formal and structured the interview will tend to be. Candidates generally dress slightly better than they would for work, with a suit (called an interview suit) being appropriate for a white-collar job interview.

Additionally, some professions have specific types of job interviews; for performing artists, this is an audition in which the emphasis is placed on the performance ability of the candidate.

In many companies, Assessment Days are increasingly being used, particularly for graduate positions, which may include analysis tasks, group activities, presentation exercises, and Psychometric testing.

Types

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Behavioral

A common type of job interview in the modern workplace is the behavioral interview or behavioral event interview, also called a competency-based interview. This type of interview is based on the notion that a job candidate's previous behaviors are the best indicators of future performance. In behavioral interviews, the interviewer asks candidates to recall specific instances where they were faced with a set of circumstances, and how they reacted. Typical behavioral interview questions:

  • "Tell me about a project you worked on where the requirements changed midstream. What did you do?"
  • "Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. What did you do?"
  • "Describe the worst project you worked on."
  • "Describe a time you had to work with someone you didn't like."
  • "Tell me about a time when you had to stick by a decision you had made, even though it made you very unpopular."
  • "Give us an example of something particularly innovative that you have done that made a difference in the workplace."
  • "What happened the last time you were late with a project?"
  • "Have you ever witnessed a person doing something that you felt was against company policy. What did you do and why?"

A bad hiring decision nowadays can be immensely expensive for an organization – cost of the hire, training costs, severance pay, loss of productivity, impact on morale, cost of re-hiring, etc. (Gallup international places the cost of a bad hire as being 3.2 times the individual's salary).

Stress

Stress interviews are still in common use. One type of stress interview is where the employer uses a succession of interviewers (one at a time or en masse) whose mission is to intimidate the candidate and keep him/her off-balance. The ostensible purpose of this interview: to find out how the candidate handles stress. Stress interviews might involve testing an applicant's behavior in a busy environment. Questions about handling work overload, dealing with multiple projects, and handling conflict are typical.[3]

Another type of stress interview may involve only a single interviewer who behaves in an uninterested or hostile manner. For example, the interviewer may not make eye contact, may roll his eyes or sigh at the candidate's answers, interrupt, turn his back, take phone calls during the interview, or ask questions in a demeaning or challenging style. The goal is to assess how the interviewee handles pressure or to purposely evoke emotional responses. This technique was also used in research protocols studying Stress and Type A (coronary-prone) Behavior because it would evoke hostility and even changes in blood pressure and heart rate in study subjects. The key to success for the candidate is to de-personalize the process. The interviewer is acting a role, deliberately and calculatedly trying to "rattle the cage." Once the candidate realizes that there is nothing personal behind the interviewer's approach, it is easier to handle the questions with aplomb.

Example stress interview questions:

  • Sticky situation: "If you caught a colleague cheating on his expenses, what would you do?"
  • Putting you on the spot: "How do you feel this interview is going?"
  • Popping the balloon: "(deep sigh) Well, if that's the best answer you can give ... (shakes head) Okay, what about this one ...?"
  • Oddball question: "What would you change about the design of the hockey stick?"
  • Doubting your veracity: "I don't feel like we're getting to the heart of the matter here. Start again - tell me what really makes you tick."

Candidates may also be asked to deliver a presentation as part of the selection process. The "Platform Test" method involves having the candidate make a presentation to both the selection panel and other candidates for the same job. This is obviously highly stressful and is therefore useful as a predictor of how the candidate will perform under similar circumstances on the job. Selection processes in academic, training, airline, legal and teaching circles frequently involve presentations of this sort.

Technical

This kind of interview focuses on problem solving and creativity. The questions aim at your problem-solving skills and likely show your ability and creativity. Sometimes these interviews will be on a computer module with multiple-choice questions.

Telephone

Telephone Interviews take place if a recruiter wishes to dwindle down the number of prospective candidates before deciding on a shortlist for face-to-face interviews. They also take place if a job applicant is a significant distance away from the premises of the hiring company such as abroad or in another state.[4]

Controversies

In many countries, employment equity laws forbid discrimination based on a number of classes, such as race, gender, age sexual orientation, and marital status. Asking questions about these protected areas in a job interview is generally considered discriminatory, and constitutes an illegal hiring practice. However, many employers ask questions that touch on these areas.

Validity and predictive power

There is extant data[5] which puts into question the value of job interviews as a tool for selecting employees. Where the aim of a job interview is ostensibly to choose a candidate who will perform well in the job role, other methods of selection provide greater predictive power and often lower costs[citation needed]. Furthermore, given the unstructured approach of most interviews they often have almost no useful predictive power of employee success.

Honesty and integrity are attributes that can be very hard to determine using a formal job interview process: the competitive environment of the job interview may in fact promote dishonesty. Some experts on job interviews express a degree of cynicism towards the process.

References

  1. ^ http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/hur/Job/ImpInterview.htm
  2. ^ http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/hur/Job/ImpInterview.htm
  3. ^ http://www.money-zine.com/Definitions/Career-Dictionary/Stress-Interview/
  4. ^ http://www.jobinterviewquestions.org/questions/phone-interviews.asp
  5. ^ http://www.people.vcu.edu/~mamcdani/Publications/McDaniel_Whetzel_Schmidt_Maurer%20(1994).pdf

External links


Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

back to Technical Writing

Technical Writing is a flexible career that lets you learn for a lifetime. The demand for technical writers is strong worldwide. The conditions and pay are professional.

Landing a technical writing position is difficult for novices. It's also a challenge for those who are leaving their first technical writing job because they've outgrown it. So the advice here is targeted at them. Please feel free to create another page with advice for experienced technical writers.TWFred 07:29, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Contents

Searching and Selecting

Read the techical writer wanted ads and you'll see they mostly focus on the wrong things.

Tools and Software Applications

My personal opinion is that this is bone headed. The tools are all about the same, and the concepts too. Learning any documentation tool takes only a day or two. But, being engineers with no clue about documentation (typically), the most common requirement for a posted job is some list of tools. The most common are Word, Framemaker, and Robohelp. Given that the tools are essentially the same, some technical writers simply claim to have ability in any tool mentioned in the advertisement, knowing that they will make it true if offered the job. This tactic is open to debate (perhaps on the discussion page for this article).

Knowledge of the SDLC

You should have this near the top of your list of skills. Without a good understanding of the SDLC, you're just playing catch-up and cannot contribute to a really strong team.

(Finally) Editing, interviewing, and writing skills

This should be the first thing, but it's sometimes not even mentioned in a 'Technical Writer Wanted' ad. But the person doing the actual hiring should know this is the reason they want you in the first place. So put this at the very top ... perhaps in the narrative section, or by listing various things you've written.

  • Editing, interviewing and writing are the most important skills.
  • If you need to brush up, use a reputable Style Guide.
  • Take particular note of writing for your audience using a 'persona' (explained on this course) - and note your use of this method in interview. This will show that you have an effective technique for tailoring your writing to match the needs of particular audiences.
  • Practice for a potential test. If you are asked to write instructions for a person who has never used an office telephone and has no concept of technology, how would you do it? Remember to focus on using information chunks, and keep structure and function top of mind: know the difference (information chunks, structure and function are explained on this course). Use a visual if at all possible.

Analytical skills

If you cannot organize the information coherently, you're lost. Similarly, if you cannot understand basic computer science principles, you're not going to help much. So anything that shows your ability to analyze situations and propose solutions is positive. Again, most ads don't even mention this.

People skills

Once again, almost never mentioned, but the real key to success as a technical writer. Emphasize this in your resume. Even a simple statement like, "I like working with people" or "I'm a people person" will do. You can teach people the writing standards and tools, but if they're someone nobody will talk to, they'll never make it as a technical writer.

During my last job interview for a Technical Writer I've been given a question: "What are the most important things in being a successful Technical Writer?" "Strong knowledge of SDLC and being a friend of all your SMEs. It's easier to get information from SMEs when they are your friends, when you don't have to bully them or beg them."

A key skill in working with people is adapting your approach to theirs - people have different styles of behaviour and different motivations. Adapting your own style according to that of the person or situation you are dealing with will help you to connect with them, and you will be much more likely to 'win their buy-in'. Demonstrating in interview that you are able and willing to do this will work in your favour.

Researching

Applying

Resumes and CVs

benefits -> functions -> structures

Benefits are for the audience, NOT YOU. Don't write about how this job will enrich you or aid your career. Tell them how you will enrich and aid THEIR quality output and commercial success.

A benefit happens when a goal is met. What are the goals of a project manager? Clearly, they want to add skills to their team, while not adding more problems. So no drama or neediness, please. Show how you're going to make the project manager's life easier.

Apply it to yourself. The audience (recipient of the benefit) is the project leader/development manager.

Benefits of having a technical writer

  • TW creates cogent, usable documentation or rewrites/clarifies inexplicit documenation authored by developers
  • TW can create and maintain permanent records of development activities
  • TW manages and coordinates documentation output
  • User instructions written by the TW support and help to sell an otherwise ephemeral product
  • User documentation that TW creates reduces customer support costs
  • Developer time is not wasted on work that they hate to do...and do poorly (saves money, improves quality/happiness)
  • TW can contribute input on User Interface development and project workflow with the development team

Functions

  • Interviewing
  • Researching
  • Audience Analysis
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Structuring/Linking info
  • Creating or advising on Graphics and Layout

Structures that support Technical Writing

  • SDLC exists and is followed at least most of the time
  • Documentation tools
  • Training in product, standards, and culture
  • Terminology, Access to Information, Openness or Secrecy as cultural paradigm
  • Comfortable conditions/equipment
  • Suitable pay to be recognized as a member of the team

A cover letter and resume combo should put those aspects into concrete terms. Show experience in performing the functions, and proof of ability to operate within the environmental structures.

The narrative would focus on benefits in declarative statements that are testable.

Past tense benefits:

  • "I wrote 25 instruction manuals"
  • "I eliminated the need for the developers to write any documentation"
  • "I created the workflow diagram that is the backbone of the UI"
  • "The new User Guide reduced support calls by 82% in one year".

Future tense benefits:

  • "I write quickly and accurately"
  • "I get along with and understand engineers"
  • "While I draft your requirement specifications, you can spend more time working with the developers and architects"
  • "Editing all the technical documents within your department to a single standard will save you from expensive misunderstandings".


These statements are all testable. Project managers like that, for obvious reasons.

Are the statements you make about yourself testable?

Resume

Your resume is your ticket to an interview. It is a marketing tool; your chance to sell yourself.

Length

  • The size of the CV that you submit depends on the nationality of the organization that you want to join. Different companies require different forms of a CV.
  • Usually two to three pages is enough.
  • "Your resume, like a diamond, could sparkle more brightly if cut" (quote amended from The Economist Style Guide's online reference to Raymond Mortimer’s comment on excellence in journalism).

Layout & formatting

  • The layout of your resume should be clear; it needs to be easy to read, uncluttered and consistent.
  • Ensure that your name is clear and contact details are prominent—it’s a good idea to have a header with your name, address and contact details (thus the reader never forgets who they’re reading about), and footer with the page number.
  • Try to stick to one or at most two font types (e.g. Calibri or Verdana), and keep headings consistent (e.g. Calibri 10pt bold, 6pt before & 6pt after, at 12pt—in Word, use Format, Paragraph to format text; or the Page Layout tab in MS Word 2007).

Content

  • A good resume will follow a structure along these lines:

1. Name (centre, bold)

2. Profile (or Career Focus)

  • This is the snapshot that should grab the reader’s attention.
  • Your profile should give a succinct picture of your most valuable skills and experience, show your professionalism and indicate where you want to go in your career.
  • Keep the language consistent in style, tone and person. It is not necessary to say "I am a person who will write in a succinct and understandable way for the audience"—instead, "A writing style tailored to the audience’s needs" is clear.

3. Professional experience

Unless you are a very recent graduate or have no relevant work experience, this is more important for prospective employers and should come before education.

  • Name the organisation and period of employment, and follow this with bullet points highlighting your accomplishments, contributions and awards. Don’t be shy; shoot for the target.
  • Quantify your achievements. Ask SMEs how much time you have saved them through writing for them—perhaps 30% of their time at work, given your writing speed and level of understanding?
  • Remember not to leave gaps—clarify periods of unemployment—did you perhaps do voluntary work or study?

4. Education

  • List either your most recent or most relevant qualifications first.
  • Include work-based training if it is relevant to the role.

5. Interests

  • Give the employer a fuller picture of you as a rounded individual.
  • Note: There is also a drawback to this. Listing your interests could give an employer reason to dismiss your resume according to his/her personal likes, dislike or prejudices. Use outside interests with caution. Also, it is becoming less common to include this type of information unless it is very apropos to the job you're seeking. (Example: an avid exerciser applying to a health/fitness organization).

6. Referees (References) [if required]

  • Be sure to notify any referees (references) that you give that they may be contacted by prospective employers—you want them to vouch for you and promote you, after all.

Interview

Setting

Appearance

Err on the side of a professional appearance. The company culture may prove to be entirely relaxed, with everyone wearing jeans and frayed t-shirts - all the same, the project manager wants to see a candidate who has respect for the interviewer and a willingness to scrub up. Wear a suit and shirt or similar corporate attire; polish your shoes and remain aware of your posture - like your mum may have told you, sit up straight and relax your shoulders back and down (don't slump).

Pay attention to your body language and pace of speech. Don't ramble on - keep sentences concise and articulate, and answer the question; only elaborate if this will add to the understanding of the interviewer or lift your profile based on the needs of the role. Maintain eye contact without staring at the interviewer/s; if there is more than one interviewer, remember to include all in your eye contact. It is quite OK to smile or use a hand gesture or two if this comes naturally to you.

If you are nervous, be careful not to show this in your gestures. For example, if your foot tends to twitch: hide it, cover it, or stop it. The best way to avoid obvious nerves is to prepare. Even if you have had many interviews, each job is unique.

Make sure that you answer the most important questions in your practice:

  • What attracted you to this job?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • How do your skills match the requirements of the role?
  • How do you build relationships with others in a team, or with SMEs?
  • How have you dealt with a difficult [difficulty could be specified by the interviewer] situation or person in the past?

PREPARATION and PRESENTATION go hand in hand; as you polish your shoes, practise your answers out loud - and go in with confidence.

Questions

  • Can these pages be translated to other languages?
  • How can I do that?

End

Follow up

back to Technical Writing


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