Advice to Job Seekers

Rand mode = on

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing some technical interviews to help out a manager in another department. He needs a bunch of junior to mid-level Unix admins and I’ve been asked to assess each candidate’s skills and knowledge.

Each candidate has an impressive-sounding list of skills, operating systems, applications, and technologies on each of their résumés.

But, when the opportunity comes to sit down and have that chat, things just start going pear-shaped pretty quickly.

I’d like to talk to you about your résumé itself.

It is extremely unwise to list as a skill on your résumé that which you have absolutely no understanding.

It’s also inadvisable to get short-tempered with the interviewer when he starts asking technical questions about that same topic.

Yes, I’m quite aware that each person’s skill level in any metacognitive realm varies widely. However, you were the one who said you had the skill. As such, because we have no idea who you are, that makes it my job to determine what level of skill you actually have.

So, I ask questions. Lots of technical questions from the very basic to the very advanced.

I expect to hear a few I-don’t-knows as our discussion evolves. That’s completely normal — and incredibly rare to have somebody actually give all the right answers.

You decided you’d put on your résumé that you’re a super-mega-awesome-ultra-Unix admin. So when I start with the junior-level stuff and move up through advanced topics and hear you repeatedly say “I don’t know” or even worse, respond with completely made-up answers to questions like what ps is for, or the difference between grep and find, or what RAID levels are, or how Unix permissions work, it pretty much tells me everything I need to know about your skill level.

Yes, yes… I can clearly see that you have many, many wonderful things listed here on this 8-1/2 by 11 inch sheet of lies. But, based on your surprising lack of even passing knowledge at the apprentice level, I don’t think we’ll need to spend too much time discussing much else that you’ve listed.

I know the market is tough, but you’re not going to get a job based on lies and bullshitting your way through interviews. This is engineering. Not politics.