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Author Topic: Why you shouldn't ask for job advice on public forums  (Read 1497 times)
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Jag
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« on: July 28, 2008, 09:25:36 PM »

because your potential employer may also be reading it.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=863049&page=2

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Originally Posted by bradcarr View Post
If I could ever so kindly ask the Linux world for some help.

I have applied for a job that is in a heavy Linux environment and I have been sent a questionnaire about my knowledge. I know my way around pretty good and just want double check my answers. Some of the questions and a gim-me, some take some thinking and some are just down right hard. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.


For those who have commented, it is indeed an entry level network administration position with some Linux skills required as most of our network management tools run on Linux. I would also like to say thank you for the very sensible comments you all have made about the call for answers. And "bradcarr" while you haven't broken the rules of my questionnaire you have definitely broken the spirit of the exercise. I did indeed say you could use any resource available to you, but didn't it cross your mind that this might be the wrong thing to do? I want to see the "real world" ability of a potential employee, not what they can recite in an interview but what they can come up with using their normal information sources to solve a problem or research a subject.

This has shown me that you won't take the initiative to research a problem, even when it might land you a job. I "googled" most of these questions before making the list and most of them are very easily discovered. It didn't seem to me that I was asking too much for people to use mailing lists, forums, IRC whatever to compile the answers themselves. I actually expected to see some questions show up on forums but I didn't expect someone to paste the entire thing and expect the forum users to do all the work that would qualify you for an interview. I think at this point you could save us all some time and not turn the answers back in, I already have the information I need on your answers.

As far as the rest of you, if there are any of you reading this thread that live in the Nashville area that want a network administration job with some Linux work feel free to shoot me your resume at [email protected]. Oh, while you are at it, go ahead and send me the answers to the questions

 icon_lol
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coopasonic
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 09:47:05 PM »

I want to work for that guy now (no, not the applicant).
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Eel Snave
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 09:48:20 PM »

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PR_GMR
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 09:52:35 PM »

Oh, my... Pwned, Indeed!!
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Destructor
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2008, 10:31:27 PM »

Quote from: PR_GMR on July 28, 2008, 09:52:35 PM

Oh, my... Pwned, Indeed!!

Ah, Ken. The smartest guy to EVER grace the world of Jeopardy.

But yes - talk about pwned as far as the original post goes.
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Bulletpig
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2008, 10:51:32 PM »

I have to agree with the one poster in the other thread that was calling out the interviewer.  The interviewer did admit that he said to find the answers any way possible.  Trying to call the applicant out on a bullshit theory of breaking the spirit of the exercise is total crap to me.  If you didn't want the entire list posted then you should have put in that rule.  The interviewer is just pissed because the he wasn't able to fathem that someone would post all the questions on the Internet.

Who remembers "Heartbreak Ridge" - You adapt. You overcome. You improvise.

Was pretty funny to read though  icon_lol
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CeeKay
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 12:11:56 AM »

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Laner
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2008, 12:30:28 AM »

heh... I don't live too far from that business.  Too bad I don't have any linux experience.
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chaosraven
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2008, 12:31:14 AM »

Quote from: Laner on July 29, 2008, 12:30:28 AM

heh... I don't live too far from that business.  Too bad I don't have any linux experience.

well the work has already been done for you, just send in the answers...

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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2008, 03:43:09 AM »

Quote from: Bulletpig on July 28, 2008, 10:51:32 PM

I have to agree with the one poster in the other thread that was calling out the interviewer.  The interviewer did admit that he said to find the answers any way possible.  Trying to call the applicant out on a bullshit theory of breaking the spirit of the exercise is total crap to me.  If you didn't want the entire list posted then you should have put in that rule.  The interviewer is just pissed because the he wasn't able to fathem that someone would post all the questions on the Internet.

Who remembers "Heartbreak Ridge" - You adapt. You overcome. You improvise.

Was pretty funny to read though  icon_lol

Interviews aren't correct/incorrect propositions.  If you're going to be that transparent in picking the laziest way possible to answer the question, you're going to lose respect. 
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2008, 03:51:37 AM »

Quote from: yossar on July 29, 2008, 03:43:09 AM

Quote from: Bulletpig on July 28, 2008, 10:51:32 PM

I have to agree with the one poster in the other thread that was calling out the interviewer.  The interviewer did admit that he said to find the answers any way possible.  Trying to call the applicant out on a bullshit theory of breaking the spirit of the exercise is total crap to me.  If you didn't want the entire list posted then you should have put in that rule.  The interviewer is just pissed because the he wasn't able to fathem that someone would post all the questions on the Internet.

Who remembers "Heartbreak Ridge" - You adapt. You overcome. You improvise.

Was pretty funny to read though  icon_lol

Interviews aren't correct/incorrect propositions.  If you're going to be that transparent in picking the laziest way possible to answer the question, you're going to lose respect. 

I didn't read the other thread, but is asking for forum help really any lazier than just googling the questions?  Seems like 6 of one, half a dozen of the other to me. 

Also, that is why you don't use your real name on forums.  slywink
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Bulletpig
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2008, 04:34:18 AM »

Quote from: yossar on July 29, 2008, 03:43:09 AM

Quote from: Bulletpig on July 28, 2008, 10:51:32 PM

I have to agree with the one poster in the other thread that was calling out the interviewer.  The interviewer did admit that he said to find the answers any way possible.  Trying to call the applicant out on a bullshit theory of breaking the spirit of the exercise is total crap to me.  If you didn't want the entire list posted then you should have put in that rule.  The interviewer is just pissed because the he wasn't able to fathem that someone would post all the questions on the Internet.

Who remembers "Heartbreak Ridge" - You adapt. You overcome. You improvise.

Was pretty funny to read though  icon_lol

Interviews aren't correct/incorrect propositions.  If you're going to be that transparent in picking the laziest way possible to answer the question, you're going to lose respect. 

According to the post from the interviewer, he didn't break the rules and was told he could use any resource available to the applicant.  So how do you lose respect by answering the questions by any means?

Another great quote: "It didn't seem to me that I was asking too much for people to use mailing lists, forums, IRC whatever to compile the answers themselves."  Is it me or did the applicant do just that?  Attempt to compile the answers to the questions himself by posting the questions in a forum?

To me lazy would have been not answering the questions.  And I don't understand how you lose respect for trying to answer the questions? 
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Zarkon
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2008, 05:09:15 AM »

Instead of doing any research at all to answer the questions, he just posted on a Linux forum, saying, "I want this job, you guys can answer these for me, right?"  It's lazy, more than anything else.
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yossar
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2008, 09:06:05 AM »

It's kind of like when you're writing a paper for school. You're allowed to use ideas from other people as long as you properly cite them (citations probably not needed for the Linux exercise).  But getting someone else to write your paper for you isn't going to fly, even if that prohibition isn't specifically stated by the teacher.  It's common sense.  I guess you could argue that common sense isn't a prerequisite to being a network administrator, but it doesn't hurt.  At the very least, don't make yourself so traceable.   

Quote from: Bulletpig on July 29, 2008, 04:34:18 AM

Another great quote: "It didn't seem to me that I was asking too much for people to use mailing lists, forums, IRC whatever to compile the answers themselves."  Is it me or did the applicant do just that?  Attempt to compile the answers to the questions himself by posting the questions in a forum?

I think he phrased it poorly and meant he didn't want people to use those.

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DArtagnan
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2008, 11:30:25 AM »

The interviewer is a moron.

If you want to test someone's knowledge, you have a conversation with them, and you ask them some questions to get a feel for where they are. You don't send them a list of questions and say "use whatever means". If he wanted to test his google skills, he should have clarified that.

Maybe it was a "weak" solution, but it was a solution - which is what was asked for.

In any case, calling him out on a public forum like that is incredibly unprofessional and shows a distinct lack of judgment. Not only are you not going to give the guy a job, but you have to publicly rub it in his face while asking everyone else if they'd be interested. What a prick.

In this world, we need money to make it and if there's some easier way of getting a job without hurting anyone, you take it. The real test can only start at the actual job, anyway.

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Toe
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« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2008, 12:30:15 PM »

I think the applicant showed excellent delegation and leadership skills as well as exhibiting team-oriented problem solving techniques. smile

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Larraque
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2008, 01:54:16 PM »

Quote from: DArtagnan on July 29, 2008, 11:30:25 AM

The interviewer is a moron.

If you want to test someone's knowledge, you have a conversation with them, and you ask them some questions to get a feel for where they are. You don't send them a list of questions and say "use whatever means". If he wanted to test his google skills, he should have clarified that.

As a programmer, I have to say it's difficult to get a gauge on someone's programming language skills, depending on how quickly you want them to get up to speed. While I understand a lot of programming techniques, memorizing how to do everything in C++, C#, Java, VB and memorizing syntax for regular expressions, SQL, etc. it all puts a strain on the brain. On top of that i switch between C# and VB to do my current job fairly frequently, so a lot of the time I'll write VB code but use a function from C# without realizing it (most frequently seen as me forgetting to put "then" after the if statement, or a semicolon at the end of a statement). Just because someone confuses syntax and has to fix it doesn't make them a bad programmer.

Some of the questions on that questionnaire follow a similar pattern.

As seen on page 4 in one of the answers:

Quote
2. How do you tell what process has a TCP port open in Linux

netstat -ap #as Root

Not being a linux guy, or a network admin, I cannot tell you if netstat is a commonly used command. However, I am a dos / windows guy. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I did not know what the /C flag does in the DIR command before this moment (and did not care to know), for example. If you're going to base your test off of knowledge off of the minute syntax of a command, then your job is looking for a tier 1 linux guy with encyclopedic knowledge, and is not looking to give someone room to grow.

Question #3 is also a good example of this.

Quote
3. On a Red Hat Linux Variant how do you control whether a service starts when the system boots.

Now, I've had a number of programming tests that I've had to take for a recruiter on C++ and C# while at home. They were timed, with multiple choice answers and a three minute time limit per question. I'd say I knew about 40% of the answers, and for the ones I didn't know, I googled it. I do not feel that looking up answers is lame, or a cheat. Next time I sit down with the interviewer, if they bring up the test scores, I mention that I googled it. Because that's what I'm going to do when i'm on the job.

You need to learn - you also just need to get that foot in the door. 
« Last Edit: July 29, 2008, 01:58:51 PM by DragonFyre » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2008, 02:07:22 PM »

Yeah.

He was PWNED. The interviewer was looking to find someone who met their criteria, and while someone standing on their desk and peeing into the interviewers coffee cup isn't expressly forbidden, you know that it's likely not going to help your chances.

Delegation is fine when people are in your employ; delegating to "teh intarwebz" isn't exactly the same.
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2008, 02:30:40 PM »

Quote from: DragonFyre on July 29, 2008, 01:54:16 PM

As a programmer, I have to say it's difficult to get a gauge on someone's programming language skills, depending on how quickly you want them to get up to speed. While I understand a lot of programming techniques, memorizing how to do everything in C++, C#, Java, VB and memorizing syntax for regular expressions, SQL, etc. it all puts a strain on the brain. On top of that i switch between C# and VB to do my current job fairly frequently, so a lot of the time I'll write VB code but use a function from C# without realizing it (most frequently seen as me forgetting to put "then" after the if statement, or a semicolon at the end of a statement). Just because someone confuses syntax and has to fix it doesn't make them a bad programmer.

Firstly, this isn't about programming. It's about networking in a Linux environment.

Secondly, you're making the assumption that the answers must be correct and that the questions demand precision. That's not what I'm talking about. That's why I said, specifically, that it's about getting a feel for where someone is. I'm a programmer myself, and I don't think it's hard to get a reasonable feel for where someone is - though my own experience is probably too limited to be qualified as an interviewer for such a position.

The question shouldn't be "what's the precise syntax for this method", but rather "how would you go about solving this problem" and not expecting precise syntax, but just a general idea of the experience of the person.

But in the end, no standard interview or questionnaire can ever determine the perfect person for the job. I just think it's the job of the interviewer to be precise about what he wants. It's not so much that he didn't hire the guy, but his way of handling it on a public forum. So the guy didn't do his own research according to unnamed demands, but does he really deserve that kind of response? Obviously some people think so, I just don't.

Quote
Some of the questions on that questionnaire follow a similar pattern.


Sure, but the questions are different from what I'm talking about. I'm saying you shouldn't send a guy a list of questions and give them free reign to answer them. If he wanted to test specific knowledge, he should have setup some simple parameters - like don't get anyone to answer you questions directly. But we all know such things can't be tested, and if he had asked the questions somewhere else - there's still no way to know how he came up with the answers. Sending people such a questionnaire in this day and age of the Internet, is quite frankly, useless.

Quote
Now, I've had a number of programming tests that I've had to take for a recruiter on C++ and C# while at home. They were timed, with multiple choice answers and a three minute time limit per question. I'd say I knew about 40% of the answers, and for the ones I didn't know, I googled it. I do not feel that looking up answers is lame, or a cheat. Next time I sit down with the interviewer, if they bring up the test scores, I mention that I googled it. Because that's what I'm going to do when i'm on the job.

I agree. No one coded anything significant in their life without seeking answers somewhere. It's the same in every complex field, and the interviewer should have been very clear - since he obviously had a problem with that particular way of getting answers.

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You need to learn - you also just need to get that foot in the door.

Yep.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2008, 02:33:24 PM by DArtagnan » Logged
Jag
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« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2008, 03:43:56 PM »

Delegating to the internet? I like that one. I'll have to try it out. biggrin
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rittchard
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« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2008, 10:19:58 PM »

I have to agree with Dart and say that "Paul Tinsley" sounds like a major asshat.  He gives the guy a questionaire to fill out, tells him to use "resources" to answer the questions, and then bitchslaps him publicly when he does exactly that.  Granted, it may not be in the "spirit" of what he originally intended, but seriously, is asking for help on a forum (possibly just to confirm your own answers) that far removed from "googling" each question or looking it up on frickin' wikipedia or whatever.  If he ended up getting the correct results faster/better using the forums, maybe that was the best method and he should be commended for it.
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2008, 02:03:17 AM »

asshat++;
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