Sunday, July 28, 2013

Interviewing Redux

In my last post I talked about interviewing and overrepresenting your knowledge. We had a similar situation with a different candidate and I'd like to talk about that a bit.

A typical interview question that I've used and had used on me goes something like "What blogs do you read regularly?". It's generally used as a conversation starter to see what you're interested in and how much you stay up on things. The candidate in question told us that he read "lots of blogs" but when pressed couldn't name a single one or even talk about a post he'd read recently. As with our other candidate, he could have probably redeemed himself but didn't.

You should be reading blogs. I'd suggest at least three or four with a mix of ruby/rails and general technology. thoughtbot is good along with Ruby News. and ruby source. Before any interview make sure that you've read one or two posts pretty in depth and be prepared to talk about it a bit.

If you have other suggestions for blogs to read or thoughts on interviewing (either side of the table), be sure to leave them in the comments.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Interviewing Classic Mistake

We were interviewing a for a position the other day, when the interviewee made the pretty classic mistake of overrepresenting his knowledge on a particular subject. In this particular case it was puppet/chef, although I've seen it happen a number of times over the years. His resume should have been a warning, he listed a large number of technologies that he knew ... actually far more than he could have known. You should keep your list down to a handful of things that you know really well. Anyway, we've been looking at puppet recently for building our machines and using them for development also and since this was on his resume, one of my coworkers asked him about it. "Oh yeah, I love puppet and chef." was the reply. "Great, where have you used them and what did you like about them? Also, where do you think each is strongest?". "Well ... I haven't really used them in production, more just played with them." Hmmmm... at this point he's not making a very good showing. If you come out that you "love" a technology, then you probably should have done more than "play" with it. "OK, then exactly how did you play with them? Did you run the tutorial?". "Yes, I ran the tutorial". By this time, we weren't even sure that he'd run the tutorial or just read a blog post or something. He probably could have redeemed himself after this (he didn't), but it would have been difficult.

In general in interviews, you don't want to be talking about things you don't know about. You really want to be talking about things that you do know about. If you don't know something, don't put it on your resume and certainly don't say much more than you've "read about it, it seems really interesting, and you'd just love to learn more about it here at XYZ Corp when you start."