Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Job interview

On Friday late afternoon I had a job interview. I won't name the company. It was an interview from hell! There were five people included in the interview. I was asked more PL/SQL questions that I anticipated. One question that particularly bothered me was from the short guy who asked how to do an outer join. I explained it (I'm sure not very well) and he went to the white board and tried to get me to tell him on what side the (+) goes on in the where clause when trying to get all employees with or without an assigned department id.

I told him on the dept side. But then he asked for another way to do it. I told him using an inner query. He and his friend smirked "Will that work?" Then I realized I had it wrong and then he asked if you can have a select as a column within a query. Yes I said, (But I hate those because it makes queries nasty and long). I'd rather see a function call than one of those. In fact AO has a bunch of those and trying to cut a paste those queries isn't fun cause there are from and where clauses all over and you have to take effort to space things out so it is readable.

Anyhow after an hour of getting grilled on PL/SQL, Java stuff I was then given a 15 minute breakdown of the company. The benefits were fine except for the Medical benefits. Then I was given another round of grilling on Java for about 40 minutes. I really messed those up. Many of the questions appeared to come from a Java test which included several trick questions and coding examples that were completely meaningless much like from a Java Certification Exam.

Luckily though that was only with one person. I stumbled all over the place and by the time I left was probably purple in color, felt extremely humiliated and considering driving into the Weber River on the way home. It has taken me four days to recover (and not even completely). The positive note though is that it has given me a huge resolve to go back to studying for the Sun Certified Java Programmer.

Last year Cameron, Justin, Trevor, James and myself met once a week to review a chapter on the exam. Back then I felt very new to Java and was blown away by the exam tests. But now realize that the attitude of giving highly confusing and sometimes irrelevant questions are a way of life for programmers being tested for their Java Knowledge. I've been relying on Eclipse too much and realize that my true Java knowledge isn't anywhere near where it should be, especially when interviewing for a position. So here is my plan:

I will reread the SCJP book and plan to cover one chapter a week (There are 10) and take the tests as I go. Then I will read the other Exam book I have and take the tests. I will then study the 310-055.pdf from eplanetlabs I bought a long time ago. My goal is to take the test on or before June 15th (My 10 year anniversary at Tomax). At that time I will then consider reinterviewing. But until then, I will probably just make a fool of myself.

I emailed my experience to Randi Thurman and she convinced me that I was just out of practice and that there might be some techniques to interviewing that I need to work on. I couldn't argue there. She offered to give me a mock interview. Hopefully I can get some pointers on how to better communicate during an interview. I sure stammered and stumbled all over myself.

I could sense disappointment in a couple interviewers when I was able to nail a question because then their satisfaction of tripping me up was unsuccessful. I was annoyed with the approach of the interview and how it made me nervous, but to be reasonable, they can't take a chance hiring a doofus with a large salary. Unfortunately I'm sure they thought I was a doofus and I'll be the first to admit that I sure felt like one. At any rate, enough of my venting, I've got a goal to correct the situation and have already started my path to non-ignorance (at least on Java).

1 comment:

Varghese said...

Just prepare the answers for those questions you have been asked. I would not worry about it much. There are guys in the company who become smart on the interviewing day. Sometimes when they dont know the answer, they will ask you more.

There are guys who "pick" you, and sometimes you have to be careful of them. They will become a headache to you later after you join them. In one of my previous job interviews, 4 out of 5 guys liked me. There is one guy who told me he was surprised to see I can talk English. He was a pain in my rear all the time before I left him and said "good bye".