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SoundHound phone screen

I had a 45 minute phone screen with the CTO of SoundHound this afternoon. They develop video and audio recognition software. (You may be familiar with an app called Shazam that is used to identify the title and artist of music that's playing; SoundHound develops similar technology.) This was a preliminary screen; more of a "getting to know you" type of thing, although the CTO did ask me to describe some of the work I'd done. However, he did ask me to rate my programming skills on a scale of 1-10 on the two languages I felt most comfortable with. I gave myself a 7 on Perl and a 6 on C, qualifying my reasons for doing so because of past experiences with companies such as Google that infer a rating of 10 as someone who might very well have written the book on a subject (and granted, some of their employees have done so). Along with this inference usually comes the expectation that one would remember the tiniest details of programming languages, such as what a 'volatile' data type is in C (which I have used, but do not remember its significance). I told him that I'm not a language lawyer, so I don't remember these details. He said that he was more concerned with whether I could get a job done with these programming languages, not so much about whether I remembered details, so I revised my ratings up one point for each language, and rated myself a 7 on Unix shells, for the reason that I don't use them as much (for programming purposes) as Perl or C. (If you're wondering why I didn't give myself a 10, it's because I'm still a bit skittish about the way these ratings are assessed. Honestly, I would rather not be asked this question on an interview.)

He then gave me an overview of the company and the position he's looking to fill. It's an operations job, involving a fair amount of time keeping their infrastructure up and running. However, since the company is very small, other work is involved, such as setting up people's desktop computers. They have a number of challenges in that they want to scale up their service offerings significantly, but most of their processing happens on the server side, so they have to deal with lots of performance-related problems. In closing, he asked me which aspects of the job I would be most and least excited about. I said that I was most excited about dealing with the performance issues, but concerned about the internal support aspects of the job. (It isn't that I think such work is beneath me, but as I've written in the past, it hurts me professionally (especially on interviews) not to have spent a significant amount of time in a professional capacity as a computer scientist/software engineer. That is how I am judged. Also, internal support work is by no means guaranteed employment; it's just as susceptible to automation, offshoring, replacement by a cheaper worker, etc. as anything else in the computer industry.)

I told him that I'd like to pursue the position further. He said it would be about a week before I'd hear from him again. He has to talk to the other people in the ops group to get their opinions of me as a possible candidate. So, we'll see.

Update: SoundHound passed on me. They decided to go with a candidate who was a better match.