Ok, I’m here and on time—good start to my interview.

Ooops!  Look at the time!  I have to get in there!  

Let me just touch up my lipstick . . . shoot!  I have lipstick all over my engagement ring . . . it’s covered in red!

Ok, don’t panic; just rub it off . . . now I have lipstick all over my fingers . . . and I’m late . . . shoot shoot shoot!

Why is this stuff so greasy?  Who invented lipstick anyway?  Why did I ever wear it?  

They will never hire a woman with lipstick on her hands!  I totally blew it . . . maybe I should just go home!

Ok, deep cleansing breaths . . . in . . . out . . . in . . . out.  We can do this.

Take a tissue, clean the ring first, now the fingers . . . only a little pink remains.

Grab your backpack and walk to the door, head held high; pretend you know what you’re doing.

Good, still on time, now face the music!


I have been writing forever, what could they ask on any test that I would not know?

Since I was told there would be a technical writing test, I scanned the web for samples, and was terrified at some of the answers.

One quiz insisted I did not understand parallel construction; this is ridiculous; I have been constructing parallelly for decades!  What do they know?

A second quiz told me I didn’t understand its and its’; look, I delegate such tasks to Microsoft, I don’t need to know how to use each.

What are the three most important prerequisites to good technical writing?  Are you kidding me?  There are a million!  Access to information, adequate technical support, substantial review process, understanding of user needs . . . the list goes on and on . . . I can’t guess their answer without taking their course I suppose.


I am ushered into a beautiful conference room for the actual test, which consists of three writing prompts, none of them difficult.  The challenge is real however.  I am to write my answers on paper . . . with a pen!  I am aghast.

Wait a minute. Maybe this additional wrinkle is part of the test.  They are testing my ability to adapt to changing environments.  I have to pretend this is fine with me.  I am a seasoned professional and can take these changes seamlessly.  Sure, I say, accepting the pen and pad. I got this.

I don’t think I have ever hand-written a bulleted list before . . . it’s actually hard to make a substantial bullet with a pen and alignment is dicey also . . . I hope they give me credit for the adverse conditions of my examination.  From comments made by my interviewer, the other competitors for jobs were able to use computers rather than carving answers into the rock as I am doing.

Hey!  Maybe I’ll get extra credit!  Maybe my name will jump to the top of the list: “look at this, Jane completed the entire test by hand!  No computer assistance with spelling or grammar or anything . . . well, this candidate deserves a few points just for that . . . I’m sure her answers will be superior as well.  Do we actually need to read this or shall we just make her an offer quickly, before anyone else snaps her up?”

I cruise through the first two prompts pretty easily.  Dead stop at the third.  Ok, this is too much. This is an article about how to take blood pressure.  Never in my life had I heard the actual name of the tool with which you take blood pressure.  Do you know what it’s called? Sphygmomanometer!  No kidding, and you need a stethoscope as well.  

I kept writing and writing. I had no trouble understanding the assignment nor in writing the content, but writing “sphygmomanometer” over and over again was killing me. My fingers were getting numb from my death grip on the shaft of the pen; my shoulder ached; I had no difficulty lifting twenty-pound barbells, but this manual composition might be the last effort of my life.

I could hear the comments of the interview team as they noticed my continually moving pen:

“Is Jane done with her test yet?”

“Is Jane still working on the test?”

“Why is Jane still working on the test?”

I could see my extra credit fading into the mists.  No, they weren’t going to offer me a job.  I’d be lucky if they hired me to clean sinks.  I wanted to explain . . . I really CAN write . . . it’s this sphygmomanometer that’s killing me! Not only can I clean sinks, I can now take blood pressure readings . . . that might be a useful skill around here where there is so much tension . . . I could be a kind of heart attack preventative . . . feeling the pressure?  Call Jane, she learned all about using a sphygmomanometer in her test!

This was uniquely cruel.  The sphygmomanometer was invented to save lives, not end them, and yet I may be going down in history as the first person annihilated by the sphygmomanometer.

I can hear the detectives investigating my collapse, talking in hushed tones: Do you really think the sphygmomanometer could do all this damage?  Yes, the seasoned detective would nod sagely, the evidence is irrefutable, though I have never seen such a case before.

After my demise, they alter the test so no other human has to suffer as I did. The replacement prompt? Write instructions for using a widget.  At least I can rest easy knowing my life served to save others.