June 30th, 2005

classic cylon

(no subject)

I had another interview at Y! yesterday. This one was with the Abuse group, who deal with
DDoS attacks, spam, bots, and other types of abuse. I actually thought this interview went
pretty well overall. There were some questions that I could have given better answers to, but
the interviewers seemed satisfied with the answers (at least judging from what they said).
When I couldn't remember the details of a particular Unix command or Perl language feature,
they said it was ok (they admitted that they would need to refer to man pages and reference

I can think of only a couple of areas where I might have been considered weak: one where I was
describing how an HTTP request gets sent from client to browser, and the other where I
described how we moved some students who were building their own index to the sponsored search
because they were driving up the load average. In the prior case, I was a bit fuzzy about how
web accelerators fit into the picture (but I did remember that Y! used them). In the latter,
I was describing how sponsored search was different than regular AV search because it just
returned a simple page with query results, rather than ads, icons, etc. But the interviewer
wanted to know how the customers were distinguished from each other, so I got into a
discussion about how each had assigned IP ranges from which they issued queries, how they
specified their name in the URL string, and how security was eventually added to sponsored
search. I didn't remember the details (and said so), and the interviewer said he didn't need
the details, but he wanted me to describe a security architecture. So I described one where
the user submitted a password (which I indicated wasn't all that great), and another similar
to the PGP feature of LJ. The guy hadn't heard of LJ, so I described what it was and how PGP
email worked with it. However, he seemed displeased with the explanation of how the email
is signed using the private key, and the signature is verified using the public key. I wasn't
sure what he really wanted, since he said he didn't need details. Unfortunately, I wasn't
able to ask for more clarification because time ran out and he had to go to another meeting.
Perhaps I shouldn't have brought up the students and their bots, but it was the first thing
that popped into my head when he asked me about a severe case of abuse (from a site
performance standpoint).

But everything else went pretty well as far as I could tell. The people seemed to like me;
the last two were joking with me; the manager seemed like a good guy to work for; the work
seemed like something I could do and would enjoy doing. So I was disappointed when I got back
from my morning walk to find a message on my answering machine that they'd decided to pass on
me because I wasn't a good match. Maybe they were looking for someone with more of an ops
background (most of the people who I spoke to came from ops backgrounds), or maybe they
thought I wouldn't want to stay in the group. (The manager asked me what my biggest concern
would be about taking the job, and I asked what the career path from that job would be. He
said that he hoped I wouldn't want to leave the group once having joined, and that since the
group has interactions with lots of other groups, it provides exposure to other parts of Y!
and keeps one from being pigeonholed. I reassured him that that wasn't the case, and agreed
that I didn't want to be pigeonholed. Apparently this is somewhat of a concern at Y!; people
tend to change groups fairly often.)

I don't know how I could have interviewed better, practically speaking. I suppose the one
silver lining in all of this is that I will probably get to go to all of the choral exchange
events with our guests from France. It's unlikely that any job offer would be made to me
between now and the first week of August, even if I line up some interviews.
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