James Barrett on 11 Feb 2009 04:25:17 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] OT (but not really): Tough Interview questions

On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 12:37 AM, Mag Gam <magawake@gmail.com> wrote:
> Since the economy has crippled, I am certain Tech people have been
> feeling the crunch since most of us are considered costs rather than
> an assets. For those who have been looking for positions, I am curious
> what are some tough technical questions you were stumped at and for
> what position.

Not exactly.  There are plenty of technology jobs still available for
qualified people.  Most of the people losing their jobs in IT are
those who are employed by a company that provides services in an
industry that is generally doing horrendously.  For instance, many
retailers (clothing, apparel and recreation suppliers) and financial
institutions (banks, mortgage lenders, and so forth) are shedding
their IT workforce.  Those also at risk are people in or close to IT
management.  Generally speaking, those who work in an educational
institution, for the government, or at hospital or other health
provider have superb job security.  Remember that technology is
ingrained in society.  The already crippled economy would not be able
to function without IT, just as a city would not be able to function
without running water.

As for technical questions, the last interview I went on did not get
that far.  The work site ended up being too far away for me to travel.

> For instance, I had a client as me over the telephone:
> What is ELF and how does it differ from other formats?  -- Unix related position
> What is kept in a journal of a journalized file system? -- Unix related position
> What is a poll and select? -- UNIX related position
> I consider these fairly tough questions -- what do you think?

They are pretty tough.  I can vaguely answer the first and second.  I
agree with Bhaskar, they do not seem ridiculous, and they are
pertinent to a technical position.  Just remember that there are other
reasons why an interviewer will ask questions like these.  The
interviewer needs to learn how well a candidate can listen, think
through a question and answer.  The answers can also show how clearly
and concisely a candidate can present information.

> Just curious what are some other ridiculous questions you faced -- I
> am not talking about brain teasers or behavioral type questions...

"Give 5 different reasons why you could not be able to write to a file
on an ext3 FS."

There were a few: if the file is flagged as immutable, if the file is
flagged append-only but changes are being made with the write, if the
disk is full... and i might have even said 'if the machine is powered
off'.  I missed an important one, however: "if the FS is mounted
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