Re: Interview type Question

From: joel garry <>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 11:35:52 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <>

On Sep 26, 6:05 am, Steve Howard <> wrote:
> On Sep 26, 2:46 am, Tim X <> wrote:
> <snip a lot of good stuff>
> > problem correctly (he isn't at fault in my mind. if anything, my section
> > is still at fault for not identifying the full facts right at the
> > start).
> > Tim
> > --
> > tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au
> You just saved 15 minutes typing something very similar.  Excellent.
> I actually think this is a great interview question.  Am I looking for
> the person to explain every nuance of free buffer waits based on a
> specific example of what he/she fixed at some point int he past?  Not
> at all.
> I don't think enough generic questions like this are asked in an
> interview.  My favorite two questions (which I ask regularly) are:
> 1)  What is the biggest thing you ever broke in technology, and how
> did you fix it?
> 2)  What is your favorite thing on which to work?
> Those tell me volumes about a person.
> 1)  tells me if they are honest (because *everyone* has broken
> something).
> 2)  Gets them to open about themselves

Has the opposite effect on me, I close up. I mean, I'm fairly open about these kind of things on usenet, I find them very entertaining and educational, but in an interview, shoot, how do you create the correct context when so many of these derive from situations like Tim said, without sounding like you are denigrating your current or former employer, which makes you a complainer? And I know I will put my foot in my mouth since I tend towards brutal honesty, which is too much for people who haven't got to know me. At least I'm not that guy who puts pictures of himself bleeding on the web. :-)

> An interview is not a confrontation.  I'm trying to get a feel for not
> only what they know, but how they do things and what they would be
> like to work with everyday.

Depends on the interview. I'm not convinced anyone can get a good idea what someone is like to work with every day from even a series of interviews. (I'm not saying that you can't, just that most people overestimate their interviewing ability.) I've seen purposefully stressful interviews, because, well, they feel they need to see how the interviewee responds to stress. Many HR professionals think they can figure out if someone will be a good fit for an organization, when maybe the organization needs a bad fit. Think on that.

> We hired a guy (against my recommendation) at one point that said he
> had never broken anything.  Guess what happened in the first 60 days
> he was there?  Yep...  He also turned out to be the type that covered
> things up and pointed fingers when stuff like this happened.  I'm sure
> in his mind he never *had* broken anything.  Not good...

I've watched a series of netadmins come and go at one particular place, several because of the CYA attitude. The essential problem seems to be interviewing in general is biased towards those who are well-prepared to sell themselves, rather than towards really defining the job requirements and how well the person fits. As far as that goes, my experience has been that most jobs adjust to the person, and are often quite different than the specified requirements. Of course, most of my experience has been cleaning up problems from the previous effups.

> For a question like the OP mentioned, I would be looking for things
> like Tim posted.  It doesn't have to be word for word, but it shows me
> the depth of their experience troubleshooting in general.  As noted
> (and as Tim noted), every problem is different.  I would like to see
> body language while they answer it, do they dwell on certain things
> like the minutia of technical details (not always good), etc.

I hope you are not saying you wouldn't hire someone who... baarfs.

> Good question!


-- is bogus.
"After the great stock market crash, President Roosevelt went on TV to
reassure the public." - uuuuuuuhhhhhhh
Received on Fri Sep 26 2008 - 13:35:52 CDT

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