Re: Agency and interviewing questions

Subject: Re: Agency and interviewing questions
From: "Nancy B. Delain" <nbdelain -at- ALBANY -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 21:29:55 -0500

>But what about the references who can't/won't say anything, as I

Well -- if you're uncomfortable with an applicant for any reason, don't
hire them.

>I can understand your hiring a writer who maintained this; what I had a
>hard time with was the suggestion that a writer who did _not_ say this
>was a bad bet.

OK. I can see that point of view, as long as you're dealing with public or
semipublic stuff. However, I'll still look for someone who respects others'
confidentiality; that tells me they'll respect mine.
>> >>Even if you have signed a nondisclosure agreement, does that still
>> apply to manuals that have been published and are for sale to the
>> customer through the customer service center? What about published
>> manuals that were written for products that are out of date? I show these
>> kinds of samples all the time and have never even dreamed there
>> would be a problem with something like that.<<
>> I still check with the document owner. It is, after all, THEIR document,
>> not mine, even if I did design, write, edit and maintain it, and eventually
>> sent it into document oblivion.
>To the best of my knowledge, I've never signed anything that
>prohibits me from showing documents so I'm interested in this discussion. I
>was surprised to hear that anyone would think I was doing something
>illegal by providing something that I thought was standard issue at a job

What I said before about checking with the document's owner still goes.
Maybe you have had no trouble; maybe the laws in the US and Finland differ;
I don't know. To me, it's become a matter of courtesy to ask the document's
owner (if it's not me; most of my technical writing samples belong to
others) if they mind their document being traipsed around to
they-don't-know-who as a writing sample. In over 15 years as a tech writer
and an employer of tech writers, I've never regarded a writing sample as
"standard issue," though that point of view seems to be becoming more and
more obsolete (just as my pet peeve about data is vs. data are is no longer
worth fighting).

I like the idea of a well-designed on-site test for the applicant (or
consultant) to see how they handle material (and pressure, btw). I get a
lot more out of that than I do out of a writing sample that may or may not
belong to that applicant.

Nancy Baum Delain
Delain Associates
Training * Technical Documentation

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