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Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 01:34 PM   #1
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Interview: Technical Interrogation

Rant on:

I don't mind technical interrogations ONLY if the questions are germaine to the position.* One of interviewers this morning made the following mistakes:

[/list]Opened his conversation with name dropping. "Do you know such and such and such and such."* Bad, bad bad!
[/list]The interviewer proceeded with a barage of extensive and deep technical questions that most did not apply to the position at hand.* At some point I had to flat out diagree with him because he was clearly wrong.

[/list]As I kept things light hearted, I stated that he had great questions, which he proceeded to respond with "These are very basic questions..."*

In summary, the interview ended by being completely out of control because the interviewer felt he needed to one up me.* I'm okay with not getting this particular job.* The pay scale is very low (a goverment job) and frankly I don't want to work with folks who feel the need to name drop and one up.

Okay, rant off.* Thanks for listening
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 01:43 PM   #2
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Sometimes interviewers forget that the interview process is a two-way process. You're interviewing them, too!

Sounds like they eliminated themselves by being obnoxious. Better to find out now than later!

Good luck.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 07:20 PM   #3
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Oh my, I had one of those interviews once. This guy had a really interesting technique. If I told him flat out "I dont know anything about xyz", he would subsequently ask several probing questions about that specific area. To which I answered each "As I said, I dont know anything about xyz".

About half way through I decided that the last thing I wanted to do was be part of an organization that not only employed a class A asshole, but decided that he would be a good interviewer.

I thanked him for his time, told him that I had decided not to continue the interview, and went bye bye.

Its helpful when an interview candidate self immolates in front of you so you can avoid hiring a problem child. Its even better when the company tips its hand during the first interview. What a time and trouble saver!
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 07:41 PM   #4
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Sorry for the typos and mispellings :P I was quite irritated this morning. In retrospect, I should've taken control of the interview by asking him to put his technical questions in context with the position.

Mr Ahole was asking me DEEP questions from software development, to Oracle database administration to systems administration to security (for an ERP application ---> think 747 landing at your company) to SQL Plus syntax. Then he proceeded to correct me when I "appeared to be wrong" because he could not articulate his questions right.

Having said all of that, this position was for someone to help leverage their existing financial ERP system in an effort to optimize financial business processes. No where did I read that I must know how the ERP application is installed and how the database organizes and categorizes the different objects. Which I DO know by the way.

GEEEZ! What a schizo interview.


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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 07:49 PM   #5
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Often you don't meet the Pscyho lead people until after the interview is over and you've hired in.

which reminds me of the following story...

There once was an accountant who lived her whole life without ever taking advantage of any of the people she worked for. In fact, she made sure that every job she did resulted in a win-win situation.

One day while walking down the street she was tragically hit by a bus and she died. Her soul arrived up in heaven where she was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter himself.

"Welcome to Heaven," said St. Peter. "Before you get settled in though it seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we've never once had an accountant make it this far and we're not really sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in." said the accountant. "Well, I'd like to, but I have higher orders. What we're going to do is let you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can choose whichever one you want to spend an eternity in."

"Actually, I think I've made up my mind...I prefer to stay in Heaven"

"Sorry, we have rules..."

And with that St. Peter put the accountant in an elevator and it went down-down-down to hell. The doors opened and the accountant found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends - fellow accountants that she had worked with and they were all dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her.

They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times.

They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner. She met the Devil who was actually a really nice guy (kinda cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. The accountant was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody shook her hand and waved goodbye as she got on the elevator.

The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly Gates and found St. Peter waiting for her. "Now it's time to spend a day in heaven."

So the accountant spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had a great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and St. Peter came and got her.

"So, you've spent a day in hell and you've spent a day in heaven. Now you must choose your eternity."

The accountant paused for a second and then replied, "Well, I never thought I'd say this, I mean, Heaven has been really great and all, but I think I had a better time in Hell."

So St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again the accountant went down-down-down back to Hell. When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends were dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting it in sacks.

The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her. "I don't understand," stammered the accountant, "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now all there is is a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable."

The Devil looked at her and smiled. "That's because yesterday you were a recruit, but today you're staff."
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 07:55 PM   #6
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

I wish I had a thumbs up icon. Great story.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-15-2006, 10:05 PM   #7
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster

"There once was an accountant ."
You're not an IT person are you ?
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Microsoft was (is?) famous for asking ridiculously difficult mathematics and programming questions in its interviews with the purpose of weeding out undesirable candidates. I believe Google has done (and may still be doing) the same as well.

I had an interview with a law firm where a partner asked how I would rule (were I the judge) in a particular courtroom situation. Keeping a completely straight face, I explained that I would sanction him for violating a state ethics rule and a local procedural rule. Needless to say, that wasn't the answer he was looking for (but it was the technically correct one). I didn't get the job, but the look on his face was priceless.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 07:58 AM   #9
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Great story, Jay!

The company I interviewed for is no where near Microsoft or Google. In fact, it's a local transit authority with ~600 employees. Now compare that to my current employer: fortune 500 company, 4th largest company in the bay area, ~150,000 employees. The Ahole yesterday just wanted to one up me by asking me questions that were not relevant to the job. Needless to say, I will be providing tactful feedback to the senior recruiter this morning.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat
Great story, Jay!*

The company I interviewed for is no where near Microsoft or Google.* In fact, it's a local transit authority with ~600 employees.* Now compare that to my current employer: fortune 500 company, 4th largest company in the bay area, ~150,000 employees.* The Ahole yesterday just wanted to one up me by asking me questions that were not relevant to the job.* Needless to say, I will be providing tactful feedback to the senior recruiter this morning.* *
Why waste your time? The recruiter won't care, nor will the company. Following behind you are 100s of candidates willing to eat sh*t and say it tastes like chicken...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 10:42 AM   #11
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay_Gatsby
Why waste your time?* The recruiter won't care, nor will the company.* Following behind you are 100s of candidates willing to eat sh*t and say it tastes like chicken...
Yep, you're correct! I did try and call the recruiter early this morning and the phone rang and rang. This outfit didn't even have voicemail (lol). So I'm not going to even bother at this point.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 10:57 AM   #12
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

I have used and been abused by many recruiters over the years and with only a very few exceptions, most are pretty worthless when it comes to looking out for anyone other than themselves. My recent experience with one was typical and I had to keep calling him to see the status of his "promise" to follow up with the company on my resume. I finally gave up and decided he will not get my business if ever I want to go for another job. For now, unless the perfect job with a huge salary at a great place to work shows up on my doorstep, I am done with job searches, resumes, cover letters, Monster.com, headhunter BS and the whole job search treadmill. I don't even return calls from the leaches headhunters anymore.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Unfortunately with my job they are all adversarial. Typically the board starts with a little fluff questions then proceeds to try to hammer you. I had one where the Lt asked what if I'd do if I stopped the Chief's daughter and she didn't have a driver's license. I told him I'd write her for driving without a license and notify the Chief. Lt started tryin got hammer me by stating I was being presumptuous what if she left it at home. I responded that wasn't the question You stated she didn't have one not that she left it at home. They said I did very well in the interview so it must have been the correct answer.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 11:37 AM   #14
 
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

The bad interview is a warning signal, maybe you should not work for this group.?

Quitting a job soon after starting sends up bad signals and you would not want some one you could not get along with being called for a referance??

Take it as a blessing.

Networking is the most effective way to secure employment, sending in resumes over the web, you are 1 of 40,000.

Good Luck.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 12:55 PM   #15
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
... They said I did very well in the interview so it must have been the correct answer.
A lot of the time it is not if the answer is right or wrong it is how you handled the interview. Sometimes it is a set up and the interviewer is just trying to see what you will do under stress; how well you handle being pushed or challenged. There is really no right or wrong answer unless you are way out of line or propose an illegal or unethical response. I have been through a number of those too. : My last job interview was for my current job. I really did not care if I got it or not so I guess I was pretty relaxed and before I got home they left me a message that I had an offer. I am still here but will leave soon never to return to this kind of work. It is a good feeling.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 01:03 PM   #16
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster
The Devil looked at her and smiled. "That's because yesterday you were a recruit, but today you're staff."[/i]
I heard it with an alternate punchline that "Those were the marketing brochures and all the good marketing guys end up in hell"


One of my worst interviews ever started with my heading into town early but inadvertently going in for the actual interview late because my watch battery picked that time to start dying. I thought I was on time. The manager came out and asked right off "Did you know what time the interview is?" Thinking I was a few minutes early I said "Of course I did!". He seemed very perplexed and confused, but I didnt think much of it. The interviews started off very hostile as unknowingly, I had made all these people stay late (the interview was supposed to be at 5PM, I showed up at 5:25). I was pretty close to writing this opportunity off as the people just hated me at what seemed like first sight.

As things went, the interviews got better though. I guess my attitude, answers and skills offset the unknown lateness. Had I known I was late, I probably would have acted a lot differently.

When I got out to the car and saw the time on the car clock, then compared it to my watch, I just about died.

I called the manager quickly to explain, and caught him still in the office. Once I breathlessly told him what happened, he laughed. "We thought you had to be insane. But you're pretty smart and you seem like a good guy, so we were going to give you an offer anyhow. Come back in and we'll give it to you right now."

That manager gave me my first management job, and took me with him to his next job. A specific core skill set I gained at that next job was the core skill set I employed to get the job with the company that funded my early retirement.

ER almost killed by a watch battery...but innocent cockiness saved the day...
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 02:24 PM   #17
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

I've always hated interviews, but not as much as one guy. This story was backed up by the JAG investigation but of course we were never told names or locations.

I entered the Navy's nuclear power program three days before Rickover retired. Back then we completed six months of classroom training followed by six months at a land-based reactor plant. Near the end of that year we'd go to an interview to be pelted with questions by a half-dozen staff. You'd be expected to draw system diagrams, recite casualty procedures, and explain the theory behind the actions. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but Rickover left under duress and a lot of the veterans felt rudderless. They kept trying new initiatives as they looked for direction in their careers, and this was especially true at the training commands.

One month the fleet feedback to the command said "Hey, the graduates of your nuclear training aren't very good at handling stressful situations. You should do something about that."

The next ensign to go to a board at that command was drawing a diagram (with his back to the board members) when he was splashed by liquid. He turned around to discover that his khakis were soaked in gasoline.

He spent the rest of the board trying to answer questions while the members lit cigarettes with wooden matches and then tossed them on the floor in front of him. He was literally stomping on the matches to make sure that they were extinguished before he was.

He survived the interview and graduated. The board members didn't, although we heard a lot about the sudden end to their careers. We never heard how the officer's career turned out but the staff at our plant suddenly became very solicitous of our welfare.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-16-2006, 05:11 PM   #18
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

And I thought my interviews were stress boards
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-20-2006, 07:53 AM   #19
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

Yes, good old technical interviews bring back fond memory. My first technical interview was with Fairchild Semiconductor (now National). They wanted me to design a ring counter circuit and servo feeback control system using differential amplifiers. My second technical interview was with HP. They drew a circuit on the board and asked for the transfer function. My third technical interview was with a telecom company for a firmware position. They wanted me to design a doubly-linked list (queue) in C++. I responsed with the algorithm and the approach, but they wanted it in code. I also said that you could always find reference to data structure. My last technical interview was with my current employer 8 years ago. I had to give a 2-hour technical presentation followed by Q&A and interviews from a team of managers and technical leads. They asked questions pertaining to object-oriented design, C++ STL, UML, real-time operating system, multi-threading or process, etc. Needless to say, I do not miss any of these types of interviews.
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation
Old 02-22-2006, 06:25 PM   #20
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Re: Interview: Technical Interrogation

One technical question I was asked during my interviews right out of college was tell me what is the best algorithm for an elevator in a building with multiple elevators servicing the same floors.

The cool thing about that question is there is no right answer... you need to find out more information about the actual usage needs to give a good answer... e.g. how many people work on which floors, when do they arrive and leave, is there a floor with a cafeteria that gets more traffic at lunchtime, etc.

As a college kid I was used to problems being posed where all the information necessary to solve it is in the problem statement, so I failed to see that what the interviewer was looking for was me to ask for more information.*

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