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Equinix interview

Since I'm sure you're dying to read all about it ...

There were four interviewers: the group manager and three engineers. The first two
interviewed me together; most of their questions were general. The group manager gave me
an overview of the corporate structure, including how his group fits into the grand scheme
of things, and also asked some general questions. There were a couple worth noting. For
one, he seemed concerned that I didn't currently have a job, remarking that "things are
pretty good (job market wise) these days." He also asked me based on my background, in
what way did I think I would best fit into the group. I said it would be providing tools
for the customers to automatically build the relationships they need with other customers,
similar to the types of tools that Nominum provided to manage IP address and DNS
infrastructures.

The last guy was the one who interviewed me on the phone. He asked me which of the
languages I programmed in did I think I was best at. I said Perl and C. So (as you might
imagine), I got two programming-at-the-whiteboard questions, one in Perl and one in C.
I did ok on the first one, although I had to start over a couple of times because I made a
couple of mistakes (one he spotted, one I spotted). I commented that I wouldn't have made
those mistakes if I'd had the Perl book to reference. He seemed ok with that. In the
next question, I had to stop and think about what to do. I started writing a recursive
solution (which it seemed like he wanted, based on how the question was phrased). He
stepped out for a bit while I continued to work. I got to a point where I was trying to
figure out whether I'd taken care of all the cases. When he came back, he asked me to
rewrite it using iteration, because he thought it would be easier. So I proceeded to do
that, but then I had another of my "I got stuck" moments. I couldn't quite think of how
to take care of one of the cases. I think I was still trying to think recursively. Also,
my shoulder and hand started to hurt. It has been some time since I've had to stand up
and write. It could have been a combination of nervousness and a little bit of RSI.
Anyway, after some prompting from him, I finally thought of the last case. I think I would
have had less problems with this if I'd been typing it into an editor. His overall
assessment of me was basically what he told me on the phone, that it seemed like there
would be a steep learning curve because there are things I'm rusty at, not having done
them recently.

The group manager came back, asked a couple of "how did it go"-type questions, and
thanked me for coming in. He said he'd talk to the rest of the team, and if there was
good feedback, he'd bring me back in for another round with more people. So basically, this
was one of those "could've done better, could've done worse" interviews.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
railmeat
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
good luck
I always find it hard to judge how I have done at interviews, or similar things.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 12th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
Yikes
I used to give those kinds of interviews before I bailed from the corporate life back in '98. I know I can still write the code in some of those languages with a reference book at my side for a quick refresher but after 20+ years of cranking out code for major corporations I think I'd probably be offended at such basic tests at this point in my life.

Did you have that same type of feeling?
gregbo
Dec. 13th, 2007 06:49 am (UTC)
Re: Yikes
I wasn't offended. I just don't see why if you're asked to write code during an interview, you can't do what you would do if you were working, such as refer to docs or man pages.

There's a post from Seth Godin, The end of the job interview, that speaks to this. He says that at an interview, to find out how well candidates can do the job, ask them to do the job. While it may not be feasible to invite people to come in for a weekend, one can sit someone down at a computer and ask her to write some code, letting her use whatever documentation is commonplace. Make it like a day at work, where someone might write some code and then discuss it with a coworker, or pair the candidate with another s/w engineer if it is an XP (extreme programming) shop. If a presentation is necessary, let the candidate use notes.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Yikes
You're the bigger man!

I think I'll just try to make sure my internet properties keep paying off so I don't have to go back and interview anymore because being almost 50, having owned companies, been CTO, Lead Architect, Director of Engineering etc. and then getting grilled in an interview like a noob...

I'm afraid my ego would detonate and take out a couple of innocent bystanders.

-IncrediBILL
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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