Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time for reform: companies must monitor interviewers

A new writer joined our project recently. She mentioned that she had attended an interview at a leading product (anti-virus) company and was asked to explain "Reflexive Pronouns". Well it is a pronoun - used instead of an antecedent noun or pronoun (example He, She instead of Bill or Tom) but  it is emphasized. For example "he himself" or "she herself"...

So the question is: why did the interviewer ask such a question? Technical writers need not know the explanation or details of Grammar to such an extent. Do the technical writers in that company think about Grammar when they write user manuals and online help? If a writer knew how to write correctly without ever thinking of Grammar, I am fine with it. Years ago, I too was asked a question by a poorly trained interviewer "what is a Gerund". I said "It is a verb with ing form". She said "No you are wrong!" I found that it is a noun with ing form. But why does it matter? It should not. I can write very well (am sure much better than the interviewer) and I know no grammar (American slang :)).

Is there an ulterior motive here? Or are the interviewers just unprofessional? Knowing the country and its technical writers I think it is the former...

Time the interviews were recorded as they do with the Cambridge exams for example. Time the questions and hiring methods were standardized. Give them a written test please.

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