gregbo (gregbo) wrote,
gregbo
gregbo

another job interview

I had an interview today at Y! with the Strategic Data Systems group, which (roughly) is the operations group that supports the people who crunch the web server logs. Tu Tran, who some of you may remember from AV ops, was one of my interviewers.

Some high (low) points of the interview:

"How would you determine who was the last person to modify a file using /var/adm/messages that is mode 777 (read/write/executable (rwx) by all)?"

Me thinking "Huh? I have no idea." After a while, finally saying "if there's a command to do this, I don't remember." The answer, which surprised me, was to change its mode to 700 (rwx by owner) and when someone tried to modify it, a message would appear in /var/adm/messages indicating there had been an attempt to modify the file by a given user. Honestly, I had never known that, and as many times as I've looked at /var/adm/messages, I don't recall seeing it.

"What's the difference between == and eq in Perl?"

Me thinking "I've used this, but I don't remember." The interviewer gave a clue about how one is used for one type of data, and the other is used for another. I spent a bit more time thinking about it and vaguely remembered it had something to do with strings and integers, so I said that one is used for strings, and the other, integers, but I didn't remember which. It turns out that if you use == on strings you get a warning (if you run the program with the -w option).

"How would you implement file completion in a shell?"

Me thinking "Huh, I have no idea! I've never done it; it has never come up. This question is really open-ended." After contemplating whether or not I could BS my way through an answer, I decided it probably wasn't a good idea, so I said that I had never done that, and that I'd probably have to think it over and study some examples.

I did give some good answers, but apparently not enough, or the not so good ones outweighed the good. With about three more people to talk to, the guy who phone screened me came in to tell me that based on the previous interviews, they decided to pass on me.

I did, however, learn a couple of useful things that afternoon.

I asked my phone screener what the interviewers are really looking for in a candidate. He said that a lot of the time, they're looking for people who know the answers to "geek trivia" (which I generally think is the category most of these questions I seem to get fall into). They're also looking for people who seem really excited about the company. The way he made it sound, this type of excited could be described as hyper — he gave an example of how he'd had several cups of espresso and was really wired. (Reminds me of what andybeals wrote sometime back when I mused on using drugs to handle interviews better.) He also said that there were some times that he worked incredibly long hours trying to fix problems (not caused by him), which is something I definitely want to avoid.

Seeing as I didn't think the job was a good match to begin with, I'm not too disappointed. Perhaps a bit disappointed that I didn't remember some things that I actually know.
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