EppsNet Archive: Interviews

How to Not Get a Job Teaching Computer Science

She was a software engineer interviewing for a job teaching high school computer science. One of the interviewers read a question: XYZ School District is committed to effective learning for all students. Key in this work is improving the success of historically underrepresented, low-income and/or students of color. What are your experiences implementing instructional strategies shown to be most effective in increasing the success of these populations? She knew what the “right” answer looked like but after a momentary hesitation decided to answer honestly. “I think it’s probably counterproductive to single out groups of students as needing special handling to be up to the standards of the other students.” “We’re not saying that they’re not up to the standards of the other students,” the interviewer said. “Okay, let me say it another way. We have four labels available: ‘historically underrepresented,’ ‘low-income,’ ‘students of color’ and ‘none of the above.’ “From… Read more →

Cheaper Than Wallpaper

From the 60 Minutes interview with Donald Trump: Scott Pelley: I was in your office . . . All the pictures on the wall are pictures of you. Donald Trump: –well, it’s cheaper than wallpaper. Read more →

Testing a White Privilege Theory

According to an article titled “The Thing About White Privilege,” “job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a callback for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.” What happens when someone with an Asian sounding name applies for a job? Serious question. Does the answer support a white privilege theory? What about someone with an Indian sounding name? A Middle Eastern sounding name? A Jewish sounding name? Test your theories against reality rather than just slinging bullshit and ignoring information that inconveniences you. P.S. I followed the link above and learned that “applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” That’s 10 percent vs. about 7 percent. Anyone who thinks “50% more likely” is… Read more →

Are There Any Intelligent People Currently Living?

I was at LA Fitness this morning . . . one of the TVs was showing an interview with Jameis Winston on ESPN. Winston is borderline retarded but thinks he’s articulate — a deadly combination. He’s a very talented athlete. Just show clips of his athletic accomplishments. They’re impressive and fun to watch. Why would anyone want to talk to him or listen to him talk? The interviewer is paid to endure it, I get that, but why foist it on the viewing public? Maybe it’s the train wreck element. It was very painful to watch and yet I couldn’t look away! Rarely is one person gifted in multiple ways. Some people are great athletes, some people are intelligent and interesting . . . the overlap between the two groups is very small. Listening to Jameis Winston talk is like watching Milton Friedman take batting practice or Albert Einstein work… Read more →

How to Answer Stupid Job Interview Questions

Via Liz Ryan Read more →

Bad Interview Question

If a hiring manager asks, “Would you be willing to perish in my stead?” start looking for the exit . . . Read more →

How to Save a Lot of Time in Interviews

There used to be a book titled The Top 2800 Interview Questions…And Answers. I have this fantasy: You walk into an employer’s office, shake hands, and say, “I know you have a lot of questions for me. So let’s save us both a lot of time.” You slide that baby across the desk toward the manager… “So here they are, along with all the answers. Now can we cut the crap and talk about the job and how I’ll do it for you, okay?” — Nick Corcodilos Read more →

Interview Tips: You’re a 10 in Everything

One of my least favorite interview questions goes something like this: On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on [insert personal attribute here]. This is a bad question because while some quantities – speed, weight, temperature, earthquake magnitude – do have an agreed-upon scale of measurement, personal attributes like, say, leadership, do not. Person A might give himself a 10 in leadership, while a third party might say, “Oh, I know that guy. He’s a 3.” You might be tempted to answer like this: “I consider myself a good leader, better than most, but I’m humbled by the challenges of leadership, and I’m always learning something new, so I’ll give myself an 8.” Absent any information about how that number is going to be used, I’d say that’s a pretty good answer. It’s honest and reflective. BUT — the question itself is so misguided that I don’t expect… Read more →

How to Lose Your Job : A Fictional Memoir (Part I)

Because of the huge productivity differences between good programmers and bad programmers — 10x? 28x? More? — my biggest leverage point as a development manager is my ability to hire people. At my last job, we had an HR Director named Lucy. In every one of our annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Lucy’s group had the lowest scores in the entire organization. Nobody liked or respected her. She was, however, close with the CEO, which made that irrelevant. Lucy’s friend Kathy Slauson runs the Slauson and Slauson recruiting agency, so that’s where we got our programming candidates, who were mostly terrible. The Slauson agency doesn’t specialize in IT candidates, although they do have a “technical recruiter,” who unfortunately knows nothing about technology. They don’t bring candidates in for in-person interviews. They take whatever candidates give them in the form of a résumé and they pass the résumés along to clients like… Read more →

Aside

Do Google style interview questions illuminate the talent in front of you?

Which is More Valuable: Collaboration or Competence?

The title of this post makes a good interview question. Usually, the candidate will say something to the effect of “they’re both valuable” to avoid the possibility of slipping up and choosing the one that the interviewer believes is less valuable. Let’s say we need to get a picture painted. We could say, “Picasso — you’re our best guy in this area. We’d like you to paint the picture for us.” Or we could say, “Picasso — work with the steering committee to get that picture painted.” You could make a case for either approach, but you can’t do both. So which is more valuable? Personally, I think collaboration is overrated. It leads to the knowledge of experts and novices being given equal weight. There’s a reason why pilots don’t invite passengers into the cockpit to get their opinions on how to fly the plane . . . Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

A Sad Interview

I did a phone interview today with a programming candidate. Of the first six questions I asked him — and I don’t start with the hard questions — he gave a halfway correct answer to one. I tried to wrap things up with some easier questions so he could end on a positive note. I struggled to find a question he could answer. It was a sad interview. I saw from his résumé that he’d recently ended a 10-year run in a corporate IT department. Corporate IT departments are usually not on the leading edge of anything, and I have to surmise that he didn’t put in the necessary time to keep up with things on his own. I don’t know how good he was 10 years ago, but at this point, he’s out of work, his skills are stale, and he’s going to have a tough time in the… Read more →

Tips on Working with Slimeball Recruiters

I got a call at the office this week . . . “Hi, Mr. Epps. This is Eric O’Neal. How are you doing today?” “I’m okay. Who are you?” “I’m with a company here in Newport Beach. My team specializes in placing highly competent technical personnel and . . .” “What company is that?” “I’m with Jobspring Partners and I understand that you’re looking to hire a C# ASP.NET contractor.” Let me interrupt for a second to mention that all of these slimeballs seem to have the same quirk of introducing themselves in three parts: 1) Name. 2) I work for a placement company. 3) The name of the company. It must be part of the training. No one ever says “This is Eric O’Neal with Jobspring Partners” all in one piece. Major red flag when a recruiter doesn’t want to tell you who he or she is working for.… Read more →

Too Much Realism

Q: David’s character, Boris Yellnikoff, is sort of an Allen anomaly, no? He’s downwardly mobile, and his cynicism is self-destructive. A: First off, I never consider these people cynical. I consider them realistic. I will say that I do agree completely that too much realism is self-destructive. — 5 questions with Woody Allen, director of ‘Whatever Works’ | Freep.com Read more →

EppsNet Interview Tips

Willingness I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still willin’ — Little Feat, “Willin’” If you’re a genius like Mozart and you’ve got a 1000 IQ in music or whatever your specialty is, then you can distinguish yourself by doing things that other people are simply not capable of doing. Lucky you! On the other hand, if you’re a person of moderate intelligence like me, you’re going to have to distinguish yourself by doing more than other people are willing to do — not more than they’re capable of doing, but more than they’re willing to do. We were interviewing candidates this week for a web editor position. One of the candidates brought in some mockups he had made to illustrate how we could incorporate social networking elements into our web site. Were the ideas groundbreaking in any… Read more →

How to Answer Interview Questions in 3 Easy Steps

Listen to the question. Answer the question. Stop. Don’t forget Step 3. Read more →

This Doesn’t Look Good, Indy

IndyMac, my former employer, laid off another 3,800 people this week, more than half the remaining work force. I got the axe myself almost exactly a year ago. Prediction — at job interviews, these people will hear something I heard a lot during my own interviews: “We’re seeing a lot of applicants from the mortgage industry.” Yeah . . . tell me something I didn’t know. The Elite Mortgage Daily Blog has helpfully provided a brief history of IndyMac stock: Read more →

Got a Job

After three months on the dole, I got a job offer from the IT director of a local non-profit healthcare association here in Orange County. I start next week. As Gerald Ford used to say, “Our long national nightmare is over.” It’s a small IT group — 8 people, including the director. I’ve got to admit I’m a little burned out on big corporate IT shops. I got out of hands-on programming and into leadership roles because I thought I could do a better job than the people I saw doing it. I wanted to develop teams that got things done using their skills and their collective intelligence, but in practice, you typically get locked into some corporate process standard. A process may be good for delivering consistent results, but they may not be consistently good results. Like at McDonald’s, every Big Mac is just like every other Big Mac… Read more →

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