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Crazy Interviews Expand / Collapse
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Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 8:53 AM


Old Hand

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Reading the topic 'Stupid Interviewer Tricks' reminded me of an interview where I couldn't tell if I was crazy or the interviewer:

I had an interview recently for an SQL Consultant contract.

The interview lasted about 20 mins, & the only SQL question was:

'Do you know about inner & outer joins?' - to which I replied 'Yes'.

I thought it can't be that easy to get a job, but it was...

I got the job!

Mind you, the rate wasn't very good.
Post #1341332
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 9:53 AM


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Call me arrogant but if an interviewer asked me questions which were designed to trick me, or were utterly stupid in themselves, or that were designed to be unanswerable, I probably wouldn't hang around.

There's enough work out there in the UK at the moment not to have to worry too much about getting another gig. This puts us (UK people anyway) in rather a fortunate position of being able to be picky.

I shall, of course, eat my words (and my hat) when the *next* recession turns up and we're all clinging onto our jobs like the handrail on the deck of the sinking Titanic.


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Post #1341370
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:00 AM


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I had a similar interview like laurie had years ago; they were interested in whether I knew vb6, ADO and whether i knew javascript; the questions had a couple of techy questions, but the end of the interview was "can you start tomorrow".


Lowell

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Post #1341417
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:30 AM
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Then there is the other end of the spectrum. I once had an interview that was 8 x 30 minute sessions with a total of 13 people where they asked me everything technical, behavioral, and work style that a person could think of. I was exhausted after that.
Post #1341433
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:33 AM


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Daniel Bowlin (8/7/2012)
Then there is the other end of the spectrum. I once had an interview that was 8 x 30 minute sessions with a total of 13 people where they asked me everything technical, behavioral, and work style that a person could think of. I was exhausted after that.


ouch i bet! i'd bet that even though you hit a hundred questions spot on, one or two nag at you after the interview where you ask yourself if you answered that as right as you could have.


Lowell

--There is no spoon, and there's no default ORDER BY in sql server either.
Actually, Common Sense is so rare, it should be considered a Superpower. --my son
Post #1341436
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:40 AM
Old Hand

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From talking to various HR people over the years, nay even actual IT interviewers (people in IT who actually conduct interviews and/or make hiring decision) I've heard something that may or may not be true. They're not always looking for a "right" answer. Sometimes they just want to see how you reason it out, what your thought process is and if you can present some viable solutions.

Very rarely am I in a position where someone says "pick one". It's usually "come up with some options and lets discuss the pros and cons".
Post #1341440
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:59 AM


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Weirdest interview I ever had was 4 hours long. They flew me out to their city, put me up in the local Hilton, rented a car for me for the day, and took me out to lunch as part of it, but then, during the interview, it went like this:

Manager draws some boxes and lines on a whiteboard, tells me it's a diagram of the company firewall and DMZ, and asks me what's wrong with it. I tell him I don't know, I'm a DBA, and don't normally configure firewalls and DMZs. There have always (in my prior jobs) been other people who handled that. He spends the next 15 minutes asking me things like, "so you've never worked for a company with a data-driven web-presence?", and grilling me on firewalls, DMZs, load ballancer and other external security measures, despite my answer to pretty much every question being "I don't know. I'm not familiar with this particular subject."

A while later, after some softball questions about things I could actually answer, their Oracle DBA (they use both products) gets up, draws a diagram on the whiteboard, with backup plans and some basic ETL flows. It was pretty clear that it was missing log backups on key databases, and I expected the question to be something like "what's missing here". Instead it was, "So, we don't do log backups on our mission-critical data. Under what circumstances would that be okay?"

I replied with some options about recovering data from ETL sources, possible use of replication or mirroring instead of PIT-restores, and a few essoteric possibilities that were "out there" a bit, but possible. It turned out the answer they were looking for was "It's okay to lose mission-critical data if you don't have enough disk space for the log backups". That's not really how they worded it, but that's what it boiled down to.

I hope, to this day, they were just trying to get a shock reaction out of me. I think I did stare at him for a few seconds with my eyes a bit wide. I don't think my jaw actually physically hit the floor, but it may have.

(As a note, data is either mission-critical, meaning losing it would critically harm the business, or it's non-mission-critical, and losing it is business-acceptable. Can't be both ways.)

It gets better.

At the end of the interview, as always, I was asked if I had any final questions. Every interview ends that way, right? So I did my usual, and asked, "Am I leaving you with any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job we're talking about here?" The answer was, "Well, you seem pretty arrogant. Have you ever made any friends?"

It gets better.

They made me an offer about 10 minutes later, while I was driving back to the airport to fly back home. A very high-pay offer, and generous moving/relocation expenses.

(I turned them down. Between the weird questions, and some distinctly odd behavior while we were at lunch, they could have offered twice what they did and I still would have turned it down. But definitely an "interesting" interview.)


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Post #1341453
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 5:26 PM
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GSquared (8/7/2012)
Weirdest interview I ever had was 4 hours long. They flew me out to their city, put me up in the local Hilton, rented a car for me for the day, and took me out to lunch as part of it, but then, during the interview, it went like this:

Manager draws some boxes and lines on a whiteboard, tells me it's a diagram of the company firewall and DMZ, and asks me what's wrong with it. I tell him I don't know, I'm a DBA, and don't normally configure firewalls and DMZs. There have always (in my prior jobs) been other people who handled that. He spends the next 15 minutes asking me things like, "so you've never worked for a company with a data-driven web-presence?", and grilling me on firewalls, DMZs, load ballancer and other external security measures, despite my answer to pretty much every question being "I don't know. I'm not familiar with this particular subject."

A while later, after some softball questions about things I could actually answer, their Oracle DBA (they use both products) gets up, draws a diagram on the whiteboard, with backup plans and some basic ETL flows. It was pretty clear that it was missing log backups on key databases, and I expected the question to be something like "what's missing here". Instead it was, "So, we don't do log backups on our mission-critical data. Under what circumstances would that be okay?"

I replied with some options about recovering data from ETL sources, possible use of replication or mirroring instead of PIT-restores, and a few essoteric possibilities that were "out there" a bit, but possible. It turned out the answer they were looking for was "It's okay to lose mission-critical data if you don't have enough disk space for the log backups". That's not really how they worded it, but that's what it boiled down to.

I hope, to this day, they were just trying to get a shock reaction out of me. I think I did stare at him for a few seconds with my eyes a bit wide. I don't think my jaw actually physically hit the floor, but it may have.

(As a note, data is either mission-critical, meaning losing it would critically harm the business, or it's non-mission-critical, and losing it is business-acceptable. Can't be both ways.)

It gets better.

At the end of the interview, as always, I was asked if I had any final questions. Every interview ends that way, right? So I did my usual, and asked, "Am I leaving you with any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job we're talking about here?" The answer was, "Well, you seem pretty arrogant. Have you ever made any friends?"

It gets better.

They made me an offer about 10 minutes later, while I was driving back to the airport to fly back home. A very high-pay offer, and generous moving/relocation expenses.

(I turned them down. Between the weird questions, and some distinctly odd behavior while we were at lunch, they could have offered twice what they did and I still would have turned it down. But definitely an "interesting" interview.)


I just don't get the "shock" interview mentality. My boss did this to one of my co-workers. He brought him in for an interview and about half way through spun around in his chair (he was sideways to the guy) and started bouncing a ball of the wall and catching it. He did this for about 10 minutes.

We hired the guy and he told me about the interview (I wasn't present) and I asked him what he thought about it. He told me he knew of hiring managers that tried to "get in your head" and it was a test. My response? I wouldn't have taken the job. While I have no problem people trying to figure me out to see if I'd be a good fit, I detest childish antics like that. Sounds like the same thing may have happened on your interview.

Mark



Post #1341622
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2012 5:35 PM


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Mark Eckeard (8/7/2012)
GSquared (8/7/2012)
Weirdest interview I ever had was 4 hours long. They flew me out to their city, put me up in the local Hilton, rented a car for me for the day, and took me out to lunch as part of it, but then, during the interview, it went like this:

Manager draws some boxes and lines on a whiteboard, tells me it's a diagram of the company firewall and DMZ, and asks me what's wrong with it. I tell him I don't know, I'm a DBA, and don't normally configure firewalls and DMZs. There have always (in my prior jobs) been other people who handled that. He spends the next 15 minutes asking me things like, "so you've never worked for a company with a data-driven web-presence?", and grilling me on firewalls, DMZs, load ballancer and other external security measures, despite my answer to pretty much every question being "I don't know. I'm not familiar with this particular subject."

A while later, after some softball questions about things I could actually answer, their Oracle DBA (they use both products) gets up, draws a diagram on the whiteboard, with backup plans and some basic ETL flows. It was pretty clear that it was missing log backups on key databases, and I expected the question to be something like "what's missing here". Instead it was, "So, we don't do log backups on our mission-critical data. Under what circumstances would that be okay?"

I replied with some options about recovering data from ETL sources, possible use of replication or mirroring instead of PIT-restores, and a few essoteric possibilities that were "out there" a bit, but possible. It turned out the answer they were looking for was "It's okay to lose mission-critical data if you don't have enough disk space for the log backups". That's not really how they worded it, but that's what it boiled down to.

I hope, to this day, they were just trying to get a shock reaction out of me. I think I did stare at him for a few seconds with my eyes a bit wide. I don't think my jaw actually physically hit the floor, but it may have.

(As a note, data is either mission-critical, meaning losing it would critically harm the business, or it's non-mission-critical, and losing it is business-acceptable. Can't be both ways.)

It gets better.

At the end of the interview, as always, I was asked if I had any final questions. Every interview ends that way, right? So I did my usual, and asked, "Am I leaving you with any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job we're talking about here?" The answer was, "Well, you seem pretty arrogant. Have you ever made any friends?"

It gets better.

They made me an offer about 10 minutes later, while I was driving back to the airport to fly back home. A very high-pay offer, and generous moving/relocation expenses.

(I turned them down. Between the weird questions, and some distinctly odd behavior while we were at lunch, they could have offered twice what they did and I still would have turned it down. But definitely an "interesting" interview.)


I just don't get the "shock" interview mentality. My boss did this to one of my co-workers. He brought him in for an interview and about half way through spun around in his chair (he was sideways to the guy) and started bouncing a ball of the wall and catching it. He did this for about 10 minutes.

We hired the guy and he told me about the interview (I wasn't present) and I asked him what he thought about it. He told me he knew of hiring managers that tried to "get in your head" and it was a test. My response? I wouldn't have taken the job. While I have no problem people trying to figure me out to see if I'd be a good fit, I detest childish antics like that. Sounds like the same thing may have happened on your interview.

Mark


Umm...That would be a big turn off IMO.




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Post #1341625
Posted Thursday, August 09, 2012 8:25 AM
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Wierdest interview I ever has was only about my second job after finishing my degree. The boss turned up an hour late and the only thing he seemed interested in was whether I liked Frank Zappa. I did, so I got the job. In hindsight I wish I hadn't accepted it as it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Still, you live and learn.

I have an unusual interview technique I use which some here might find unreasonable but I'd defend it to the hilt. I get two sets of lego containing exactly the same pieces. I sit in one room with a pretty random shape pre-built out of one set of lego and have the interviewee sit in another room with the other set - connected by hands free telephones. The interviewee can ask any questions they like and they've got 20 minutes to build the shape I pre-built, which is waaay too short a period for them to actually complete the task (it takes alot longer than you might think). This is actually a great test because it reveals so much about the interviewee that I believe is crucial to a good programmer. Particularly around the "softer" skills I'm typically looking for. Do they panic? Do they give up? How do they communicate? Do they ask open and closed question to understand the problem? Do they make assumptions or fully clarify the goals up front? Do they take a methodical aproach? Do they think logically and try to break the problem into smaller chunks? I'm not cruel, I lay the basic premise out in front of the interviewee before hand and what my expectations are. I tell them they probably won't finish and I just want them to get as close as possible.

Technical skills are pretty easy to test for, you just ask some technical questions. And knowing your syntax off by heart isn't really what makes a good programmer, it's about having a flair for problem solving. Those soft skills can be damn hard to test for and this is the most effective way I've ever found to do it.
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