Technical Writing Job Interview
My face-to-face interview with the company was similar to my phone interview. So similar, in fact that more than once I found myself answering the same questions I had answered over the phone. They did throw a couple curve balls at me, however. The strangest question I was asked was, “If we called your references, what would they say about you?” I was unprepared for this one, and I ended up talking more about my references than about what they would say about me.
My basic statement, however, was one that I have used before. “Once I take on a project, I am very committed to it. I will fight for a project, often to the consternation of those around me.” This isn’t the most positive thing I can say about myself, but I don’t like to walk into an interview and give people a false impression either. I discussed how I handle situations. I told them I’ve camped in people’s cubicles to make them give me the information I need and I’ve gone to managers when I felt people weren’t cooperating. I told them that if they are looking for someone who is always tactful and compliant, I may not be right for their project.
Apparently they weren’t too scared off by my answers. They gave me two “take-home” tests (I could have done them there) to prove I knew what I was doing. The first was a general test of FrameMaker skills, and the second was an editing test. I found both tests to be pretty easy and I emailed the tests back the next morning. Less than an hour after I sent them the tests, I got a call telling me I was hired.
Technical Writing Contract Negotiation
I had already agreed on a rate for this job ($25 an hour) and so I was surprised when my recruiter called and said she wasn’t able to get me that rate. Just as I was about to panic, she revealed that they were actually going to pay me $30 an hour. Why did they raise it? I haven’t a clue. They had me at $25.
There were some contract negotiations, however. Most of the contract was fine except for clause 14:
Failure of the employee to report for work at the date, time and location above specified shall constitute a breach of this contract and the employee shall be SUBJECT TO LIQUIDATED DAMAGES IN THE SUM OF $5,000.00, payable to ____.
The clause is not as unreasonable as it seems at first. Once a consulting company commits to a contract, they assume a financial responsibility for that person showing up to work but there was no way I would agree to the contract unless the clause itself referred to a specific date and time when I was to show up. I “discussed” this with them over a series of phone calls that went all the way to the president of the consulting company and I finally got my way.
After that was settled, I signed the contract, a non-disclosure form, a criminal background check release, and direct deposit forms. Because the consulting firm is in Dallas, All of this had to be done long distance. There’s a good chance I will never meet my recruiter or account manager in person. This did create a problem at one point, when one of my faxed contract pages went missing and I had to go through my papers and fax the page again.