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#1
rudy

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Hi All -

We are looking to hire someone to work with the Adobe CS3 suite of products. In an interview people, of course, can say that they're proficient at using the software and showing work that has been done using the software but it doesn't give a good indication at how well they've mastered it and how quickly they can use it. I'm looking for something that is like the old typing tests that they used to give would be secretaries as part of the interview process. Has anyone ever come across such a thing or devised one?

#2
peanut

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You might just give them a raster logo and have them trace it using the pen tool.

Make sure the logo is complex enough that they will have to make some complex paths along the way.

If they can do that fairly quickly they are likely proficient in Illustrator.

Rich

#3
Nick Springer

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And observe them doing it. If they use keyboard shortcuts a lot and access things from menus quickly, that is a good sign.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#4
ELeFevre

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You might just give them a raster logo and have them trace it using the pen tool.

Make sure the logo is complex enough that they will have to make some complex paths along the way.

If they can do that fairly quickly they are likely proficient in Illustrator.

Rich


I guess it comes down to what you're looking for in an employee. Do you want someone who can follow orders and push buttons or someone who can conceptualize and provide options? How would you respond if they recreated the artwork perfectly using "Live Trace" in a matter of seconds? Or what if they pulled out a piece of paper and started drawing?

To me it's more important to try gain an understanding of how somone approaches a problem rather than focusing on a rigid set of must-know techniques. A lot of people don't perform well on a computer with a stranger breathing down their neck.



#5
rudy

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I guess it comes down to what you're looking for in an employee. Do you want someone who can follow orders and push buttons or someone who can conceptualize and provide options? How would you respond if they recreated the artwork perfectly using "Live Trace" in a matter of seconds? Or what if they pulled out a piece of paper and started drawing?

To me it's more important to try gain an understanding of how somone approaches a problem rather than focusing on a rigid set of must-know techniques. A lot of people don't perform well on a computer with a stranger breathing down their neck.


Well, I do primarily want to know if they can push the right buttons, do the job well and do it quickly. If they're smart enough to use the LiveTrace than that shows me they know something. True, people don't perform well with a stranger breathing down their necks but part of the exercise is to see how they respond. If they get so flustered that they can't do anything, that would be something to take into consideration.

Having said that, the software test would be only one part of the equation. They will be a standard interview, of course.

#6
Brian Moran

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My view:
Illustrator isn't rocket science. If someone says they are proficient with it, and has experience in using it to make maps, I'd be inclined to believe them. Administering a "test" in something as basic as using AI may turn off some applicants because it implies a certain level of distrust. It would for me at least. Its not like cartography is a career so lucrative that significant numbers of people are lying their way into jobs.

In addition, I think if an applicant is really quick with AI but you're looking for a button-pusher, he/she may become bored with the work, whereas someone just learning it may end up doing a better job in the long run if its an entry-level job.

Just some things to consider....

#7
ELeFevre

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A year or two ago when we were looking for another cartographer our primary "test" was that the interviewee had to make some kind of comment (without being prompted) about any one of the maps hanging on the walls...good, bad, whatever. Of course this came after reviewing samples, resumes, blah blah blah. It was pretty funny.



#8
merft

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I don't think you really need a software test to get a good feel for someone's competency in CS3. When I would interview folks, I would periodically toss various software questions at them. Mostly related to ArcGIS, but varied on their skillset. Questions I would try:

- What's the difference between the pen and pencil tool in Illustrator? When do you use each?
- What are blending modes in Photoshop? What are the most common you use? Why?
- If you are preparing a map in CS3 for Windows and you are printing from Macs, what things should you do to make sure you map is press-ready?
- What is your favorite feature in CS3? Why?

Base your questions on common things you do in your production environment, not try to stump them. If the interviewer is knowledgeable in CS3 they will know when they are being fed BS versus someone who knows the software. My favorite question is "What is your favorite feature". You truly find the software geeks/passionate with that question.

-Tom

#9
mike

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I agree with most of the replies here that anybody can push buttons and it doesn't take a genius to figure out how to work Illustrator.

Our team likes to challenge candidates with technical software related questions. We look for how well and detailed they answer it. We usually pose the questions in an open ended fashion and see how they will problem solve to answer it. We also like to throw in several questions on design theory and see how they will respond. We also do what Erin does and look for key words that the candidate will hopefully say. We like to ask a surprisingly simple question: "What is your favourite font?". And surprisingly, we get a lot of "Ummm.... Arial?"

#10
rudy

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I agree with many of your comments here but allow me to provide some context to my own. We are looking for someone for a 6 month contract to do a specific task in CS3. The contract is not likely to be extended and involves little or no design decisions - all those have already been finalized. It's just a matter of producing the product. To that extent, I'd want someone already familiar with the software so that the downtime as a result of not knowing the ins and outs of the software is kept to a minimum.

Keep in mind also that the decision to hire someone isn't going to be based solely on a software test. There will be an interview with some cartographic questions being asked. The reason for the software test is that I've come across a few people who have said they are knowledgeable in the software to find out only that they are not. Perhaps the the technical questions in an interview would be another way to go.

#11
natcase

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My favorite question is "What is your favorite feature". You truly find the software geeks/passionate with that question.

Great question. It is tricky to get at an interview question that really gets to interviewee's passions, and not what you want their passions to be. I've found "Tell me about your favorite map" to be a good one. We asked one prospective employee to spend half an hour with one of our maps and tell us how he/she would improve it designwise. That may have been a bit much, but it led to interesting discussion.

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maphead.blogspot.com



#12
Rick Dey

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Well as I recall one of the tasks we asked prospective employees to do was trace a curved line with a triple line scriber. Typically we made sure the blade wasn't mounted in the swivel quite straight and would make sure the tools were there to fix that...oh wait, you said Illustrator CS3!
Sorry, wrong tool...nevermind :P
Rick Dey

#13
merft

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Well as I recall one of the tasks we asked prospective employees to do was trace a curved line with a triple line scriber. Typically we made sure the blade wasn't mounted in the swivel quite straight and would make sure the tools were there to fix that...oh wait, you said Illustrator CS3!
Sorry, wrong tool...nevermind :P


ROFL. You're just mean.




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