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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-22-2006, 06:54 PM   #21
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

I've been on the flip side and felt kind of bad for it. Boss asked me to write a few technical questions and ask them in a group interview. I pretty much stumped all four candidates, even though all I did was sit down and write out some things off the top of my head. Part of me felt like they were relevant, but another part of me thought, "hey, did you know that before you started working in computer security?".

I think the best questions are those that start along the lines of, "tell me about a particularly challenging problem you solved...". If the prospect has any hope at all, there is something he/she is proud of and can't wait for an opportunity to tell you. And once they get animated about something they are into, they usually lose that case of the nerves. I usually try to make a joke of any kind towards the beginning of an interview, as well.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-22-2006, 07:57 PM   #22
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireme
One technical question I was asked during my interviews right out of college was tell me what is best algorithm is for an elevator in a building with multiple elevators servicing the same floors.
Did you know that in the majority of elevators made and sold in north america (and many overseas) that pressing the first floor button and the otherwise useless 'door close' button at the same time causes them to go directly to the first floor, even if someone has pressed the call button on intervening floors?
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-23-2006, 09:02 PM   #23
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Well, I had my interview with the government agency (IT position) and they want me to come back for a second interview. They also told me to bring in samples of after action reports (does anyone know what this is?) Is it common now a day to be called back for a second interview? Also, what do you guys recommend I do in terms of my current position? I am missing a lot of work due to all of my interviews and I think they may be catching on. I can only have so many doctors appointments.

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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-23-2006, 11:53 PM   #24
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

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Originally Posted by geeman
Well, I had my interview with the government agency ... They also told me to bring in samples of after action reports (does anyone know what this is?)
Does this government job involve carrying a weapon? I think an after action report is a combat thing. Make sure you read the job description thoroughly.

I always found the whole idea of interviews to be dumb. You're going to hire somebody for a long-term position and evaluate them in an hour? Does any company do this well? I always thought the best approach was good recommendations from a trusted source + a smell test + a probationary period.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-24-2006, 12:51 AM   #25
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

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Originally Posted by wab
. . .I always found the whole idea of interviews to be dumb.* * You're going to hire somebody for a long-term position and evaluate them in an hour?* * Does any company do this well?* *I always thought the best approach was good recommendations from a trusted source + a smell test + a probationary period.
A friend of mine who has changed jobs fairly often once told me that, "For a day, he could fool anyone into believing he was whatever they were looking for." He really could.

Unfortunately, it also works the other way. For a day, a devious employer can fool anyone into believing they are are being interviewed for their ideal job.

I always started with items on the resume and tried to get the interviewee to start talking about something they claimed they had done. I let them ask their own questions. If they told me they built a right-handed widget, I asked what a right-handed widget did? what it cost? how long it took? how many people were involved? what the other team members did? . . . I never trusted an engineer that didn't show passion about something. It's usually pretty easy to expose someone who exagerates their contributions this way. Asking about the role of other team members tells you a lot about how they worked with other people. Their actual level of contribution comes through pretty clearly.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 04:25 PM   #26
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
I think the best questions are those that start along the lines of, "tell me about a particularly challenging problem you solved...". If the prospect has any hope at all, there is something he/she is proud of and can't wait for an opportunity to tell you. And once they get animated about something they are into, they usually lose that case of the nerves. I usually try to make a joke of any kind towards the beginning of an interview, as well.
When I first started doing interviews, I tried to copy what I had seen in previous interviews (those useless technical questions that don't necessarily show if you would be useful on a team, just that you might know certain facts).

I ended up doing exactly what you're saying. I now ask questions about "What was your most challenging projects that you can think of", and "What was your most creative projects you can think of", and "What project did you excel the most at?", and "What type of projects do you really enjoy?"

By the time we finish those questions, I have a pretty good idea of what type of person they are. I should know if they're lying about the technical skills simply from asking questions. I'll know a lot about their personality, which is extremely important.

I remember interviewing awhile ago for a "team lead" type of position. Running projects, gathering timelines, etc. Some technical lead must have run the interview. It was just full of linked list questions, memory allocation questions, etc etc. I knew some of the answers, but plenty of them weren't something I would pull off the top of my head. Halfway through the interview I'd given up, but slogged through the rest just in the event that his opinion wouldn't count It worked out best in the end, I found out his group was outsourced not too long later
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 04:43 PM   #27
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute n' Fuzzy Bunny
Did you know that in the majority of elevators made and sold in north america (and many overseas) that pressing the first floor button and the otherwise useless 'door close' button at the same time causes them to go directly to the first floor, even if someone has pressed the call button on intervening floors?
I asked the people here and they said the close door button only works if you have the "fire" key installed.... otherwise it is useless for anything except to push... maybe it is a old wife's tale about going to the first floor.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 04:44 PM   #28
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Technically, I'd ask architectural questions. "If you were planning on setting up xyz for 30,000 users, how would you do it?" Then I'd look for them to ask decent follow up questions and give me a high level architecture of how they'd do it. Anyone can learn whats in field 15 of a sync packet for protocol xyz and then forget it a month after the test. How you'd go about gathering requirements and building something shows me a lot more.

Past the technical stuff, questions like "tell me about the best boss you ever had and why you liked them", then the worst boss, then peers, then if appropriate subordinates. The answers I got from those questions gave me the most insight into the people and their interactions with various levels of co-employees. "Tell me about your biggest success", and then failure...and what they learned from those things respectively...also a big tell. Anyone who had to think a while on what their biggest failure was, or who said they never really had one...watch out!
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 04:47 PM   #29
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud
I asked the people here and they said the close door button only works if you have the "fire" key installed.... otherwise it is useless for anything except to push... maybe it is a old wife's tale about going to the first floor.
Try it and see...I had Otis Elevator for a customer years ago, and he told me that their elevators and several of the other major makers had that little 'backdoor' in them. Maybe no longer. I havent been in a building with more than 2 floors in a long, long time...

Hmm..quick search turned this up...
http://www.engadget.com/2005/08/02/elevator-hacking/

So maybe its still something that works part of the time...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 05:38 PM   #30
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute n' Fuzzy Bunny
Anyone who had to think a while on what their biggest failure was, or who said they never really had one...watch out!
Or even worse, if you ask a person who's worked in software development for 7 years "What was your most creative project", and they can't think of a single thing. (This happened just last week). I rephrased it to be "Just something where you might have done something other than what was written in the design". Nope, never did anything creative, always follows the specifications, doesn't ask questions.

At least the question helped me decide if I should hire them
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 06:42 PM   #31
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

The "tell me about your worst boss and why you didnt get along with them" gives me some of the more entertaining responses. I had one candidate that was really looking pretty good until I asked this question. Went completely non-linear and self immolated right in front of me. I actually called another person to come into the room 3/4 of the way through to make sure I had backup and to be a witness for the lawsuit...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 06:59 PM   #32
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceberon
Or even worse, if you ask a person who's worked in software development for 7 years "What was your most creative project", and they can't think of a single thing. (This happened just last week). I rephrased it to be "Just something where you might have done something other than what was written in the design". Nope, never did anything creative, always follows the specifications, doesn't ask questions.

At least the question helped me decide if I should hire them
Because we don't want to remember the projects that we worked on. Most software and/or ERP (near and dear to my heart, NOT) implementations turn out to be screwed up with a huge mess a lot of clean up work leftover after the friggin project team circus leaves.

No, I'm not bitter, nope not me I love my job, I love my job, I love my job...

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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 07:05 PM   #33
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by geeman
Well, I had my interview with the government agency (IT position) and they want me to come back for a second interview. They also told me to bring in samples of after action reports (does anyone know what this is?) Is it common now a day to be called back for a second interview? Also, what do you guys recommend I do in terms of my current position? I am missing a lot of work due to all of my interviews and I think they may be catching on. I can only have so many doctors appointments.

Thanks
After Action Reports = Post Mortem

So essentially "a thing" fails/dies at a certain severity level resulting in some sort of business outage. AAR is a process which usually defines root cause, key learnings and preventive measures.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 07:40 PM   #34
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Ah...the "laying of the blame" as I used to call them...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 08:05 PM   #35
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

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Originally Posted by Cute n' Fuzzy Bunny
Ah...the "laying of the blame" as I used to call them...
exactly. you've been around the block.

I was trying to be helpful without my bitterness/cynicism showing.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-02-2006, 08:33 PM   #36
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

I totally screwed up a "postmortem" once by walking into a meeting with the guy who did the screwup, sitting down, and 4 seconds later saying "I think I can shorten this up...this guy made the mistake, we know what he did wrong, we've changed the procedure such that we're not going to do it again, and I accept all responsibility".

There was this momentary pause as the collective bloodlust seeped from the room.

Then the chief blood sucker said "But we all want to know what it was and document everything!"

"Why? Its entirely within my area of responsibility. But I appreciate everyone coming. C'mon John, lets go..."

"Bb bbbbb...but bbbutt..."

"I already said I was fully responsible. Do you want me to say it a third time? Ok, I'm fully responsible."


Overall I didnt love my job. But it had its moments...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-14-2006, 01:07 AM   #37
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Tomorrow is my job interview and I'm nervous. Any advice to get over this so that I don't choke
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-14-2006, 07:39 AM   #38
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

YaYa, when I was younger and used to get nervous before a job interview, test, or going to court, I would do a little self hypnosis. I would sit, relax my muscles, count from 10 backwords,and then make suggestions to myself. Like: you will know your material, you are well prepared, when you get up you will be relaxed, etc. Then I would count to three and "wake up."

I found it very effective.

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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-14-2006, 07:59 AM   #39
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Just imagine them all naked except for funny underwear. Then you wont even want the job, because who wants to work with a bunch of people who show up for work in their underwear.

No pressure.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 03-14-2006, 08:07 AM   #40
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Imagine the interviewer sitting upon the crapper; stinking with diarrhea.* He/she will lose all gravitas.*
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