Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Failure of the Day: Failing to Embrace Failure

I failed a proofreading test for the company that called me to apply for a job last week. There were two parts to the test: a proofreading part and a problem-solving part. The problem-solving part was ridiculous; all publishing-related math.

"In a document with 32 point font, if the client wants 25 points of white space between each line of text, how much leading needs to be applied to the font?"

That was the easiest question on the test, and one of the few I answered correctly. I have no doubt that I flubbed that section of the test but I couldn't figure out why they were even testing for that. There are charts that do those calculations for you. You don't have to figure it out, you just have to look it up. I mentioned that to the woman who administered the test and she said "Yes, we all get used to relying on that." I almost said, "Yes, like we get used to relying on having an oven instead of knowing how to make fire with two sticks." I suppose I'm gambling that every single bit of printed information on the earth about how to lay out a page will not be destroyed, but I'm pretty comfortable with those odds.

Anyway, I got an email that said I failed the test. But it didn't give any specifics. I don't think I failed the actual proofreading/copyediting part (you know, the thing they were hiring someone to do) because I found over 100 errors in their 2-page test document, but they didn't say that I only failed the problem solving part, they said that I failed. And I can't help it, it freaks me out.


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