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Chaz Blogs It's all about the eXperience!

I've been sitting on this post for a long time...  I just read a post by Chris Williams about a technical interview he conducted today.  It is very funny and it has inspired me to write this.

Now I have been on both sides of the fence in a technical interview as both the interviewer and the interviewed.  I really  hate this process from all sides.  Obviously as an employer you need to figure out what somebody knows and if they are qualified for your job.  As a candidate you want to put your best foot forward.

My most recent experience comes to mind when discussing this topic.  I had a very technically talented interviewer.  And I got one of the most grueling interviews of my life.  Questions ranging from "Name 4 of the nodes you will see in a SQL Server Management Studio Tree" to "How to change the color of text in a simple html page containing only the <HTML> and <Body> tags" to "Can you Inherit from multiple classes in C#".

I was warned ahead of time by the internal recruiter that this interviewer was an MCSD and had gone through great pains to develop a technical interview that he was very proud of.  And rightfully so.  The breadth and depth of this interview was significant.

From an Employer standpoint, this very syntactical/text book interview is not my style.  I'd much rather know that you can think.  I'd like to know that you know where to find the answer to things you don't know.  I much rather know what you contributed to your last project.  Yeah, sure you need to know the basics, but if we are talking about MVC/MVP, or a data access block you know how to code... we've moved past the basics.  Syntax is relatively insignificant.  Now sure knowing that you can't inherit from multiple classes in C# and that you work around this by implementing multiple interfaces from abstract classes is important.  That tells me you are an advanced developer.  But knowing the syntax for what attribute to set on the <Body> tag to change the text color is irrelevant.  Tell me you'll Google that or even better you'll go to WebMonkey.Com to get that answer and I'm happy.

One of my most favorite questions as a candidate is anything regarding ADO.Net.  Anybody that knows me knows that I am not a very big fan of datasets much less ADO.Net.  Sure it has it's place in the world and is gaining a little more validity beyond simple data transport (much to my chagrin).  But I am from the use ADO.Net as a data transport mechanism via the Data Access Block camp.  Pass me a dataset to hydrate my business object and get rid of ADO.Net from there.  So do I know ADO.Net...  well not really.  But does it matter?  I know how to use the Data Access Application Block.  Isn't that enough?  Is it?

I don't know if there are any really good answers to this.  But if you do get past the trawling recruiter slime out there, you are only 50% there.  You still need to pass a technical interview.  As I did in my most recent experience, I simply told the interviewer to move on to the next question when I did not know the answer.  I made a mental note of the question, looked up the answer later and in my thank you for your time e-mail submitted back the answers to about 10 questions I had skipped. 

You are not without your computer and thus resources to research syntax, technique and tools in your daily job.  So why then should you be expected to tech out (specifically syntax) without these tools.  And yes maybe Visual Studio has made us lazy developers, but come on, how many of us haven't browsed the drop down list of options from intellisence.  Ya gotta love the intellisence!


Posted on Monday, December 18, 2006 10:11 PM .Net , Other , Microsoft , Management | Back to top

Comments on this post: How Do You Tech Out?

# re: How Do You Tech Out?
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Very very true chaz.
Looks like you read my mind and consolidated my thoughts on interview process
Left by Kalyan Ganjam on Dec 18, 2006 11:36 PM

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