Random Brain Oozings

Good Tech Interviews

I had a fantastic interview today. I don’t yet know if I’ll get the role, but I’m feeling pretty confident about it. Even if I don’t, the interview itself went very well. Here’s why:

The questions they asked.

It’s really simple, actually. The three interviewers had scoured my resume and asked me questions that went along the lines of, “tell me about this project you have on your resume,” or, “what kinds of things were you considering when …” and the like. They were questions meant to pry into my work history and accomplishments, which the interviewers managed to do so successfully I think.

Here’s what the questions specifically weren’t: quiz questions. Examples of “quiz” questions in the networking world would be things like, “Tell me the steps in the BGP best path selection algorithm,” or, “If you have 2 ISPs and want to send/receive traffic from one at a time, how do you do that?” Those are quiz questions, and as we progress in our careers, they’re a lot less applicable and useful. No one should need to have the best path selection algorithm committed to memory. Seriously: no one should. Google is your friend.

I know that other techie careers (eg: developers, systems admin/engineers, etc) have their own set of “quiz” questions. Generally these are used to test the knowledge of the interviewee.  Does that person actually know the technology that’s listed on their resume?  Or did they learn enough about it from school, perhaps?

And that last part, “from school,” is the important bit in my opinion. If you have a network engineer who is fresh out of school, it’s likely they haven’t built much of a resume yet. All you’ll really have to ask them about is what they’ve learned, and in that case, quiz questions might be useful. But as we get further and further into our careers and transition to more senior level roles (eg: an engineer becomes an architect), those quiz questions just don’t work.

So, to the interviewers, I’m going to suggest something that may cause you to shift a bit in your seats. Before interviewing someone, regardless of the role you need them to fill, look at what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished. You might need to rethink some of your questions.  Do you actually need someone that has all of that tech memorized and ready to go off the top of his or her head?  Or is it permissible for them to look something up if they don’t remember steps 4, 5, and 6 exactly, but can explain everything about the process to you?

Think about that one.

Leave a Reply