pre-interview etiquette filter
March 11, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Pre-interview etiquette: I've received a schedule for a job interview, a good half hour of which is pegged for a practical exercise. I'm not sure what this would entail in the context of the job, and I would like a little more information about it. Is it acceptable to email the HR officer I've been corresponding with asking for a rough idea of what the exercise is? How can I phrase this without sounding like I'm asking for a cheat-sheet?

Basically what it says on the tin. I'm a little anxious about the job interview so I'd like to have some idea of what I'm getting into, but I don't want to sound pushy. I guess it's possible I'm overthinking this.
posted by the cat's pyjamas to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd ask "do I need to bring or do anything specific to prepare for the exercise?" That gives an opening for the HR rep to explain what the exercise is if appropriate, but doesn't make you seem pushy or uptight if they prefer to keep it a secret.
posted by decathecting at 9:54 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It never hurts to ask. Just ask, and don't sound pushy. Sound inquisitive.

"I understand I am supposed to participate in a 'practical exercise.' Can you give me more information about what this practical exercise is?"

If they say "no" then let it go. I think that being inquisitive is generally a good thing in any work environment.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2010

Just ask if you should prepare anything. They either say 'no', or they'll give a brief explanation of the exercise and then say 'no'.

The second answer satisfies your curiousity, but either way, you have the answer you need.
posted by Kololo at 11:34 AM on March 11, 2010

I don't think it's pushy to ask politely, pretty much exactly as you phrased it. Preparedness is valuable to you and to your (potential) employer. Good luck in your interview!
posted by xiaolongbao at 12:03 PM on March 11, 2010

"I understand I am supposed to participate in a 'practical exercise.' Can you give me more information about what this practical exercise is?"

This. Plus:

"Should I prepare anything?"

In my admittedly old-fashioned organization, we make all applicants complete spelling and grammars and complete a writing exercise. Yes, really.
posted by desuetude at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2010

Thank you all for the clear-headed advice.

I ended up quoting jabberjaw pretty much verbatim. HR weren't able to tell me anything about the test, but they were perfectly nice about it. No harm done, and it put my mind at rest.

And I got the job! I like to believe that ask.metafilter had my back on this one.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 6:06 PM on March 17, 2010

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