Re: How do you conduct technical interviews ?

From: Andrew Kerber <>
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008 11:26:01 -0500
Message-ID: <>

The problem is that those questions wont elicit a useful answer from a technically oriented person. If you want to know how technical person approaches a problem, the best method is to give him or her a scenario, and ask him how he approaches it, for example:

It is 2:22 am Monday. A database has crashed and you are the on call DBA what steps will you follow to bring the database back on line?


You are observing the database, and discover that there are several ad-hoc queries being run through sql-navigator in the production database. There is no rule against this, but you suspect that the number and size of the queries is slowing down the response time in production. What do you do?

On Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 11:05 AM, Robert Freeman <>wrote:

> I think these questions (and ones like them) are right on for finding the
> right technical person. That is part of the problem I think, in the past we
> just try to make sure they are a technical fit, forgetting that things like
> work ethic and being able to make it socialy make a difference. I personally
> don't mind the questions at all. I'd suggest that those who *do* need to
> reassess their response to this line of questioning, because in the end it
> makes a difference with respect to the kinds of people you will be working
> with. Maybe you don't like them any more than you like blood tests. However,
> like blood tests they help determine some basic things about the person you
> need to be aware of.
> What good is a canidate who is an OCM with 20 years experience, consulting
> experience with all the right places and who used to work for Oracle and
> actually developed the Oracle Kernel code for the base RDBMS (I don't know
> anyone who meets this description) if he has no work ethic? We all know the
> type. They make more work for you, never deliver on time and upset
> customers.
> What good is a canidate if they can't relate to the people around him or if
> they are a cube hermit. What good is the best modeler in the world if they
> are narsisistic and in-capible of social graces? What good is a DBA if his
> way of dealing with conflict is to get loud, obnoxious and threatening or
> perhaps instead he just gives up and hides rather than fight for the truth.
> What good is the smartest guy in the world if he can't manage to keep
> organized? All of these types of people can be trouble in an orginization.
> Hiring someoen with really negative social issues is a troublesome thing
> because getting rid of them can be hard. I'd prefer to hire the right person
> out of the gate the first time.
> Of course, none of us are perfect, so what you look for are the extreeme
> cases. Those who clearly will be a problem fit in the orginization. All of
> these things, in the end, contribute to the success of an individual and,
> resultingly, the success of an orginization. As a result, these are very
> valid questions. I've probably interviewed 40-50 people over the past year
> for different positions we are trying to hire. Some had the technical
> ability but did not have the social ability. Others had social abilitties
> (with lots of technical potential) and not all the technical skills we need.
> We have hired the later, becuase they can be trained and given opportunity
> they will run with it. I do not believe we have hired one of the former.
> In the end, managers or those involved in the review process can't just be
> techno-wenies (guilty as charged here) when it comes to the hiring process.
> We can't just sit on our technical high horses and assume there is nothing
> to the "management" arts when it comes to hiring (we all like to bash
> management.... it's easy to do, right?). When we sit in the technical chair,
> we often don't respect the managment chair. Once you sit in that beast, you
> look at things a bit differently (if you are a good manager) and realize
> that there is more to the overall atmosphere than technical geekdom. It's a
> shame, but it's true.
> Cheers!!
> RF
> Robert G. Freeman
> Author:
> Oracle Database 11g New Features (Oracle Press)
> Portable DBA: Oracle (Oracle Press)
> Oracle Database 10g New Features (Oracle Press)
> Oracle9i RMAN Backup and Recovery (Oracle Press)
> Oracle9i New Feature
> Blog: (Oracle Press)
> The LDS Church is looking for DBA's. You must be LDS to apply (please don't
> write to me and tell me I'm breaking the law. A church can choose to hire
> members of it's own faith. Look it up if you don't believe me).
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Andrew Kerber <>
> To:
> Cc:;
> Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 8:26:28 PM
> Subject: Re: How do you conduct technical interviews ?
> Those type of questions are appropriate to sales positions or purely
> management roles. They are useless for finding a technically skilled Oracle
> DBA.
> On Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 5:58 PM, Pedro Espinoza <>wrote:
>> Don't worry much about these questions. There is a huge market for these
>> questions and their answers: search on amazon for books specifically
>> address such questions and prospective answers. It is like taking sales
>> training classes.
>> On Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 3:53 PM, William Robertson <
>>> wrote:
>>> Those are the kind of evil questions we all hate. You go for a technical
>>> role and you have to deal with some git asking you about your private life
>>> and how you apply trite corporate values to your five year life plan.
>>> -----Original message-----
>>> From: Gints Plivna
>>> Date: 16/8/08 19:51
>>>> Just today spotted this blog entry:
>>>> I think at least some of these questions are quite interesting.
>>>> Gints Plivna
> --
> Andrew W. Kerber
> 'If at first you dont succeed, dont take up skydiving.'

Andrew W. Kerber

'If at first you dont succeed, dont take up skydiving.'

Received on Sun Aug 17 2008 - 11:26:01 CDT

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