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I had a phone screen today. The interviewer wanted to know my opinion
of why I've been unemployed, considering I have a master's degree,
lots of experience, etc. So I told him about how I sometimes am
unable to remember things at interviews such as how a particular Unix
command works, or a specific programming language feature. He told me
that he brings O'Reilly reference guides to interviews. I'd never
heard of such a thing. No one ever told me that was allowed. The
closest that comes to it that I've heard of is a few places that
provide you with reference materials, but you don't get to bring your
own. As far as I can remember, no one I ever interviewed brought (or
asked to bring) reference materials. I'm now wondering how common
this is.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
space_parasite
Apr. 4th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've never tried that, but I generally can remember stuff okay. It seems like it should be fine: it's not like they're going to make the job itself closed-book, right?

I suspect most interviewers have never considered the issue either. Their reactions might be informative as to the local culture...
gregbo
Apr. 5th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC)
I might not remember the options to a command or some fact that can be easily looked up, especially if it's been a while since I've used or needed it. Here's an example.

If I were interviewing someone, I'd let them bring in whatever they wanted. However, the questions I ask generally can't be (easily) looked up in manuals. They require some thought. Also, I'm looking for how the candidate handles a situation (e.g. how the candidate explains something to someone whose background doesn't match theirs).
space_parasite
Apr. 5th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, the good questions don't rely on trivia. However, I'm not sure walking out of any interview that doesn't have only good questions is a feasible way to get a job. :)
gregbo
Apr. 6th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC)
However, I'm not sure walking out of any interview that doesn't have only good questions is a feasible way to get a job. :)

I wasn't implying that, or expressing disapproval of people bringing reference materials to interviews. I had just never heard of it, that's all. From some feedback I've gotten on comp.programming and Joel on Software, it's not common.
railmeat
Apr. 5th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
seems like a good idea to me
I have never done that, nor have I seen anyone do it. It sounds like a good idea, but I would feel kind of strange bringing in a pile of books. It would indeed be educational.

My former manager at Yahoo! said he would bring a laptop to interviews and ask the interviewee to fix a small bug in a script, or write a simple function. He did not do that to me though.
gconnor
Apr. 5th, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
I don't usually go *that* technical when I'm interviewing someone, but I don't think we're interviewing for the same types of jobs :)

Anyway, putting on the other hat for a moment, if someone said to me during an interview "Can I check my notes?" I would say "One, you brought notes, how cool is that? And two, you can check your notes if you will be bringing them with you to your next job"
gconnor
Apr. 5th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
However, I have in the past brought stuff for "show and tell" to interviews, such as stuff I have written, past projects, etc. Stuff like that is useful when I'm asked vague stuff like "What are some of the things you have worked on in your current job" or "How well do you know X and Y". If you brought notes on previous projects, you could probably get away with saying "That sounds similar to something I've done before, would you mind if I glance through my notes on previous projects while we're talking?"
gregbo
Apr. 5th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC)
I usually make notes about every job I've done that's listed on my résumé to refresh my memory about the projects I worked on. However, I've never actually used my notes during interviews. A few times, I've had to send in coding samples ahead of time. (I would never ask for anything like this on an interview because the interviewee can bring in code s/he didn't write.)

but I don't think we're interviewing for the same types of jobs :)

True ...

Have you ever interviewed somewhere featuring questions from RedHat, Cisco, or some of the other certification exams? I once took a look through a RH exam book and thought that I wouldn't be able to do well on such an exam (or interview based on such) without doing a lot of review. The Cisco exams I can pretty much forget about, as they deal with specifics of their hardware and software (not to mention either things I have either never worked on or not done in many years).
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )