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May. 28th, 2005 (UTC)

I'm wondering in the case of closely-matched candidates, or borderline cases, if there are actually measurable differences that would show up on the job. For example, in my latest phone screen, I was asked some questions about named. One of them was what port it listened on. I didn't remember and said so. Perhaps I should have said that I could look the port number up in /etc/services, but I didn't think to do that. (I was starting to become stressed again.) But in the course of the discussion, I did say other things that I thought would give the interviewer the impression that I generally had knowledge of it, such as the different types of queries, zone transfers, that it listened on TCP and UDP, etc. Then there was a question about whether you could get that information from tcpdump. It does allow you to print out the contents of several types of packets, but I wasn't sure if it could do specific types of DNS packets. But I did say that you could, at least, look at an octal dump of packets in the ethernet frame, so even if the specific DNS packet types weren't supported, you could inspect the packets yourself. There were other questions like this, where I couldn't remember the specifics but I gave what I thought was good enough information to show that I understood the concept.

I didn't make it to the next cut of interviews, and I'm wondering in the case of people who did, what's the difference between them and me. I wouldn't think that something where all one needed to do was look something up, perhaps taking a couple of minutes, would be significant in terms of employee performance. And anyone can momentarily forget something like a port number or a program option. Perhaps the decision wasn't made on the basis of the interview per se, but on other things, e.g. other candidates were still working (and presumably "fresh"), or younger, or came from companies where they were able to focus on these types of problems more than I could. But there's nothing I can do about that.

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