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Suffering the Interview

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  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    So I interviewed a young pup today for a Programming position. I hate interviews Smiley I was getting increasingly frustrated, but kept my cool.

    "How often do you read tech-related news online?" I asked. "Well, technology isn't really changing...the more things change, the more we realize they stay the same", he replied. "Okay, but how often do you read tech news to keep up with the latest in security exploits, and application compromising?" I restated. "Well, applications will always have security holes" he said.

    This  where I started getting frustrated. Does anybody see why? All I want to know is "How often do you read tech-related news!". But the question was eventually avoided three times. I gather that he doesn't read tech-news...which I don't like.

    "In X-product, I know of one security flaw that needs to be corrected. By using javascript injection, you can take-over another registered user-account. How would you go about fixing this problem?" I posed a simple question. "Well, if you're using windows these problems will always be around", he stated. "Hold on, this isn't an OS-specific issue here. I'm talking about JavaScript injections, nothing more. How would you lock-down cookie information so that a  person with malicious intent cannot compromise our system?" I reiterated a bit impatient. "I have never had to work with problems like this in the past" he said, upsetting me even more.

    What kind of person answers questions like this while interviewing for a software-development position?

    "How familiar with the .NET framework are you?" I asked. "Well, I didn't want to pay the subscription fee for the framework, so I'm not too familiar with it." he responded. "What do you mean 'Subscription Fee', it's a free download..." I responded, a bit confused. "Oh", he answered.

    Long-story-short, he doesn't get the job. I could go on and on about this interview, which sadly lasted 45 minutes (when I had made my mind up after 5 minutes, but continued to give him the benefit-of-doubt).

    What are your stories? Those of you who are incharge of hiring?

  • User profile image
    ktr

    That's just plain crazyness. How did you survive? I would have stopped at the javascript injection.

  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    ktr wrote:
    That's just plain crazyness. How did you survive? I would have stopped at the javascript injection.


    Actually, I did "Stop" about five minutes into the interview. The last 40 minutes or so I was on "auto-drive". Smiley

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    If I may ask, what position was he applying for? I've never interviewed anybody, but I can sense a pattern to his responses that probably would have annoyed me about 7:34 into the process.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    I think you should have stopped the interview 10 minutes in, and said "Thank you very much for your time, I'll see you out", whilst secretly wanting to say "Geeeeetttt ooooouuuutttt!!!!!"

  • User profile image
    Harlequin

    You should have hired him. Junior developer, $18,000 a year to start Smiley

  • User profile image
    spiked

    Usually I am a great interviewee - but i had one guy ask me over and over one time "what would you do if you got stuck trying to solve a problem?" I didn't really get where he was trying to go, and I became as repetitive in my answers as he was in asking the question. The answer he wanted was that "I would ask for help" - after he explained that I was thinking what a stupid question. He was so hung up on getting HIS answer he never got to find out anything about my skills.

    As an interviewer I tended to dig to see if people understood the 'big picture' like "Why OLE?" (that's dates the time im talking about) or "What is an address space?"  I found 0% had any clue as to real answers on either of those questions, but at least I didn't dwell on them.

  • User profile image
    Antitorgo

    45 mins when you knew after 5? You just wasted both your time and his time. If I know after 5 mins, I'll stop the interview. It might seem cruel to them or something, but a) I'm not there to make them feel "better" and b) I don't want to give them any false hope.

    I'd guess just based off the responses that this guy was pretty fresh out of school.

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    Recently I had to interview for a web developer. Like most interviews I had a strict set of questions to ask, to guarantee their was no bias in the results. All the shortlisted candidates had some development experience on their CV and had been involved in at least one companies website previously.

    To ease them in, my first question was a simple "What technologies had you used in production websites?" kind of thing.

    So, I was slightly taken aback when one candidate replied, "Photoshop."

    Thinking maybe the question had been misunderstood I pressed a little further, "Was it just HTML or did you use something like ASP or JSP?"

    The response? "Oh, we outsourced that part because nobody in our company knew how to do it"

    Needless to say my follow up questions on web standards and SQL injection proved rather more challenging...

  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    Cornelius Ellsonpeter wrote:

    If I may ask, what position was he applying for? I've never interviewed anybody, but I can sense a pattern to his responses that probably would have annoyed me about 7:34 into the process.




    No official title for the position. But it demands strong PHP skills, with extremely well working knowledge of MySQL, and VisualBasic.NET

  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    AndyC wrote:
    ...I pressed a little further, "Was it just HTML or did you use something like ASP or JSP?"

    The response? "Oh, we outsourced that part because nobody in our company knew how to do it"

    Needless to say my follow up questions on web standards and SQL injection proved rather more challenging...



    After that response to HTML, you stilled asked about SQL Injections and Web Standards? Smiley Hehe, you're even more patient than I am!

  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    spiked wrote:
    As an interviewer I tended to dig to see if people understood the 'big picture' like "Why OLE?" (that's dates the time im talking about) or "What is an address space?"  I found 0% had any clue as to real answers on either of those questions, but at least I didn't dwell on them.


    I asked some "Why" questions too. "I prefer linux to Window", he said. "Why?" I sincerely asked. "Well, Linux is Open-Source" he responded. "So, why do you prefer it to windows?" I again asked...his face went blank...he wasn't sure why, other than it was opensource.

    He also stated that he has developed in C++ before, so I opened my laptop and was about to invite him to write some code for me...as Joel Spolsky suggests! He was reluctant to take the wheel, and avoided the opportunity by offering to run me throug his education background.

    If you're not prepared to write code, then don't talk about code.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    jsampsonPC wrote:
    After that response to HTML, you stilled asked about SQL Injections and Web Standards? Hehe, you're even more patient than I am!


    It's like the kitten, playing with its prey before eating its head off Smiley

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    jsampsonPC wrote:
    
    After that response to HTML, you stilled asked about SQL Injections and Web Standards? Hehe, you're even more patient than I am!


    I didn't really have a choice. "The Rules" about interviewing are very clear about the fact that all candidates must get the same set of questions, even when its clear early on they are hopelessly under qualified. Equal opportunities and all that.

    It's actually kinds heartbreaking as they must realise with each new question that they clearly aren't going to get the job. Just sending them home is probably less cruel.

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    You should send that on to the DailyWTF.  This kid is pretty clueless, and they eat that stuff up (and the stories over there are hit or miss, and this one is pretty good)

  • User profile image
    Shark_M

    The pup is correct. I like his/her answers as it shows that he/she knows his stuff.

    Even if you read the news that does not mean that the news reports every exploit out there. exploits are best discovered by the programmer him/herself.


    Secondly with Javascript on a windows platform you can always get around and re-exploit the system.  He is right.


    What you tried to do is fit the descrption of a nerd like person. THe hard core programmers out here who are really really good, would not fit your profile. I am willing to bet that that pup is well informed about how the underground hacking community works and he might even know things you dont know. You can tell these things from the answers. These answers are intelligent and short. I loved these answers. Simply brilliant.

  • User profile image
    jsampsonPC

    Shark_M wrote:
    The pup is correct...with Javascript on a windows platform you can always get around and re-exploit the system.  He is right. I loved his answers. Simply brilliant.


    His "answers" were not answers. "I have never had to work with problems like this in the past" is not answering my question. I really don't care what you have or have not had to face in the past; I want to know how you would face it now - what would you do? That's my goal in interviewing pups.

    His "answers" were not sufficient to land him a job. When I ask, "How would you fix exploit X?" and he said, "Well, applications will always have problems...", that shows me that he isn't giddy about writing error-free code, or atleast attempting to.

    I know that programs will always have problems, but that isn't answering my question.

    If you would hire this kid, based up his answers, then you would destroy your business.


  • User profile image
    brentnewbury

    LOL. It's funny but sometimes, I imagine, candidates put themselves in these awkward situations by applying to jobs they're neither qualified for, nor have any understanding of. Other times, job descriptions are not worded appropriately.

    It's just a shame that when I apply to for .NET roles people don't seem to like the fact that I have no industrial experience with .NET (I have industrial experience, just not with .NET). Without being egotistical, I probably know more about .NET than most people who've applied for the same position. (I know atleast one person who has industrial experience with .NET but doesn't know the difference between the .Dispose() and .Finalize() method)

    It's just a shame that employers can't trust my mantra "I'm applying for the position, I pretty confident I could do the job properly."

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