I applied online and interviewed at National Instruments.
Interview Details – I submitted an application online, and received an email from a current technical writer asking for more information 7 or 8 weeks later. I provided them with my current GPA and several writing samples. A day later I got an email about setting up a phone interview and an editing test. The phone interview lasted less than an hour, and was conducted by the same technical writer who had emailed me. Questions were largely behavioral and focused mostly on collaborative work. The editing test was a timed edit of a product manual, focusing on style and consistency.
Several days after the phone interview, National Instruments invited me to an on-site interview. They provided a list of several Fridays to visit, and arranged all the travel and accommodations. The on-site interview consisted of a full day of group interviews, product demonstrations, a campus tour, lunch with other technical writers, and a writing test. Outside of the writing test, the interviewing is behavioral. Great emphasis is put on collaboration and technical experience. The general structure and career paths of NI are outlined. All interviewers are technical writers of varying levels of experience.
NI provides a host to ferry candidates between interviews and answer questions through the process.
Interview Question – Describe the difference between journalism and technical writing. Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 7 weeks - interviewed at National Instruments in December 2012.
Interview Details – I applied for the job through their website, and I received an email from a senior technical writer two and half weeks later informing me they would like to set up an initial interview. I was given the option of having a phone interview or an interview on the campus, and I opted for the the on-campus interview because I live within a reasonable distance. The interview took place the following week, and I arrived on campus and waited for my interviewer in the lobby, which was really nice and impressive because of all the awards displayed on one of the walls. My interviewer met me in the lobby, and they took me up to one of the conference rooms where the actual interview would take place. Once we were in the room, the interviewer told me another person would be joining in as well as part of training process so they could learn to conduct interviews. They were both really polite and friendly, and I was given a brief overview of how the interview would go before we actually began. I was asked typical behavioral interview questions, and the second half of the interview consisted of a timed, 20 minute editing test. I didn't find the test to be very difficult as most of the errors seemed to be pretty obvious, but the interviewer did mention that I was encouraged to look through the entire document instead of focusing on just one page. The document was five or six pages long, and I was instructed to edit for grammar, style, punctuation, and voice. I was given the option of keeping my own time or having time kept for me, and I opted to have the time kept for me, which also included a 5 minute warning. The conference room had a clock on the wall as well, so I was able to gauge how much time I had left for the other pages. I received an email slightly over a month later to let me know my interest in the company was appreciated, but I was not selected for the position. Overall, my experience was really positive, and the company seems like a good place to work. During the walk to the conference room I noticed everyone was in very casual dress and generally all seemed to be in good moods, which I took to be a sign of a good work environment.
Interview Question – Describe a time where you had an innovative idea that was implemented. Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at National Instruments in October 2012.
Interview Details – I applied online and received an invitation from National Instruments to interview onsite. The interview was about an hour long. The first part of the interview (~35 min) consisted of behavioral interview questions. There were three interviewers in the room (all technical writers and all very pleasant) who asked the typical behavioral questions, as well as questions regarding my past experiences and questions that asked what I knew about NI and its culture/values. The second part of the interview (strict 20 min) consisted of an editing test that had me mark up four or five pages of one of NI's product manuals for things such as clarity, grammar, and consistency in numbering, titles, fonts, etc. You didn't have to use specific proofreading marks as long as you got your point across. While I felt rushed to complete the editing test, the overall interview was relaxed and not very stressful, assuming you've practiced your behavioral interviewing and have some answers handy.
After about two weeks, I received an email notifying me that I was selected for a full-day interview (note: the first interview described above would probably be replaced by a phone interview sans editing test for those not already living in Austin, like I was). The campus interview lasted from 10am-3pm, and included a campus tour, an informal lunch with other writers, and a friendly host that took you through the whole process. There were two or three 45-60 min interviews that followed the same format as my first interview: three interviewers asking behavioral questions and relating your answers to your past experiences and to the culture at NI. The only difference was that near the end of those interview sessions, the interviewers might talk to you about career paths or other 'Why NI?' topics and/or open up the remaining time for you to ask them questions. I also interviewed with an engineer in the form of an off the cuff discussion about a technology he was working on, although we actually went off on a tangent that became very informal (just note you will be asked to describe the technology the engineer introduced you to in the afternoon interview session). Sometime after lunch I had to take another 20 min editing test, although this time I was made to write a conceptual topic and a procedural topic on a computer (not sure if people who haven't taken the written test will have to do this). I used Notepad to complete the exercise, and my end product was a list with an introductory sentence and a few steps and substeps, as well as a short paragraph describing a small application I was told to play around with. To conclude the day, you interview with a manager or HR representative that discusses NI's benefits and culture in more detail, and this is really an information session and not an interview. Again, the overall interview process was pleasant as everyone was friendly and since NI's culture very laid-back and open.
I received notification of the job offer just before the two-week mark.
Interview Question – Can you think of a time you had to follow a procedure you didn't agree with, and what did you do to address it? Answer Question
I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at National Instruments in November 2012.
Interview Details – My first interview was on a college campus that they came to for recruiting. I was then asked back for an onsite interview day which was very exhausting but also fun and impressive.
The company pays for recruits to stay all weekend so they are able to experience Austin. I flew in Thursday night and they encourage you to stay until Sunday, which I did. All Friday is the interview day. You have a host -- a volunteer staff member with the job you're applying for -- who follows you around throughout the day and makes sure you have everything you need. The day started with breakfast and a company presentation with the NI founder, then a series of interviews all day. Two were with a panel of three people, one with a software engineer that was really mostly him showing me NI software, then a few other "interviews" that were really just demonstration of products or more information sessions about the company. There was also a writing test that was fairly easy. The day ended around 5 pm, and that night I went out to eat with my host and another group. Saturday depends on whatever you and your host want to do for fun around Austin, and we had another dinner with all recruits and hosts that night.
The NI environment is very friendly and everyone seems happy. All interviewers were very nice, although the interviews felt a bit rigid and were nerve-wracking, but I'm also fairly new to job interviews. The NI campus is very nice -- lots of health-promoting programs and meals -- and Austin is such a cool city.
Interview Question – Tell me about a time you disagreed with a superior, and how did you approach the problem? Answer Question
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 days - interviewed at National Instruments in November 2011.
Interview Details – First had one hour phone interview, then I qualified for a face-to-face meeting. The face-to-face lasted 4.5 hours. They gave us lunch. More than one person was there to interview for the same job. The group who interviewed me was extremely nice. We were given a group presentation about the corporate setup and culture, then were interviewed for 20 minutes by either individuals or groups of people. The one question everyone asked was about how I dealt with a difficult situation. I guess they were trying to measure how well I could stand pressure at work. I was always given the opportunity to ask them questions as well. At the end, we were given an editing test. Read some of the white papers posted on ni.com, then you will not be surprised at what you find on the test.
Interview Question – Describe the most difficult problem you have encountered at work and tell us how you resolved it. Answer Question
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at National Instruments in April 2011.
Interview Details – Initial communications were via email with a tech writer, setting up a date and time for the interview. The first interview itself was with two tech writers, who asked what I knew about National Instruments (hint: it does not make calculators). Apparently employees volunteer to engage in recruiting new peers; they called it "extracurricular" activity.
Very early in the interview I was asked for my salary requirements, a question I skirted by saying something about making sure the position is a good fit before discussing pay. It's rumored that NI does not pay very well but that the work is interesting and the culture is very laid back.
There were some behavioral questions, like "describe a time when you had difficulty working with a group" and "tell us about a contribution you made in your last job." Another question was "imagine one activity you'd be doing three years from now if you end up working here." They wanted a very specific activity description.
The two NI employees were open about their job duties and the company culture, which seems to favor healthy work-life balance and physical activity. There is even a primary care physician at the Austin facility, an onsite gym for $15 a month, and free showers for those who like to jog on the trails or commute by bicycle.
The editing test, which was given at the end of the interview, was an example of "getting started" instructions for one of NI's actual products, with errors added after the fact. It could help to be very familiar with the products and their manuals. It was supposed to be 20 minutes, but I set the chronometer on my watch and was stopped at just over 18 minutes, which barely gave me time to finish one pass and did not allow for a second pass.
A few weeks later, I was contacted and asked again for my salary requirements as well as my current salary. This time, I used numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and the Society for Technical Communicators to provide a range that would be acceptable. I also totaled up my wages and benefits at my current job. It didn't take long after that for them to decide that they did not need to interview me a second time, so I'm afraid the rumors are correct. NI may be a great place to work, but it probably didn't want to match my current compensation, much less improve upon it.
Interview Question – Describe a time when you had difficulty working with a group. Answer Question
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at National Instruments in January 2011.
Interview Details – First applied online in mid-December and was contacted in mid-January through email. Set up an interview time and date. The campus is very nice as is the staff. The interviewer came down to meet me in the lobby and I was taken up to the interview room. The interviewer brought in a second employee and the interview began. They asked me various questions about my cover letter and resume; they also asked me various questions about what I learned in school. Following this, I was given 20(?) minutes to finish a short editing test and was sent on my way. A few weeks later, I received an email letting me know they declined me for a second interview. The company is very laid back and the dress code is relaxed. There were banners for many universities hung over most cubicles.
Interview Question – Would you rather work with a group or by yourself? Answer Question
NI employees enjoy a work environment framed more by guidelines rather than hard and fast rules; an outstanding, multifaceted compensation and benefits package; and access to tools and resources equipping them to drive… — Full Overview
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