job screening question

Matthew Palmer mpalmer at
Fri Jul 6 07:42:42 UTC 2012

On Thu, Jul 05, 2012 at 11:04:05PM -0400, Robert E. Seastrom wrote:
> Diogo Montagner <diogo.montagner at> writes:
> > For screening questions (for 1st level filtering), IMO, the questions
> > has to be straight to the point, for example:
> >
> > 1) What is the LSA number for an external route in OSPF?
> >
> > This can have two answer: 5 or 7. So, I will accept if the candidate
> > answer 5, 7 or 5 and 7. Later on (the next level of the interview), a
> > techinical interviewer will chech if the candidate understand the
> > differences of LSA 5 and 7.
> Frankly, this feels a bit like asking what the 9th byte in an IP
> header is used for (it's TTL, but who's, uh, counting?) -- "That's why
> God gave us packet analyzers" should be counted as an acceptable
> answer.  If not, you'll find yourself skipping over plenty of
> extremely well qualified candidates in favor of those who have crammed
> recently for some sort of exam in hopes of compensating for their
> short CV.

Ugh, I know someone (thankfully no longer a current colleague) who ardently
*defends* his use of questions like "what does the -M option to ps do?" on
the basis that "any senior person who knows what they're doing should know
all the options to ps!".  No, you useless tit, anyone who knows what they're
doing should know how to read a bloody manpage.

Trivia tests get you hiring people who know trivia.  Knowing trivia has it's
productivity benefits, but if you can't apply it, it's useless.

- Matt

Politics and religion are just like software and hardware. They all suck,
the documentation is provably incorrect, and all the vendors tell lies.
		-- Andrew Dalgleish, in the Monastery

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