job screening question

Ben Aitchison ben at
Sat Jul 7 00:51:55 UTC 2012

On Fri, Jul 06, 2012 at 04:18:21PM +1000, Matthew Palmer wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 05, 2012 at 05:01:39PM -0700, Scott Weeks wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > --- jason at wrote:
> > From: Jason Baugher <jason at>
> > 
> > Geez, I'd be happy to find someone with a good attitude, a solid work 
> > ethic, and the desire and aptitude to learn. :)
> > ---------------------------------------
> > 
> > 
> > Yeah, that.  But how do you get those folks through the HR 
> > process to you, so you can decipher their skill/work ethic 
> > level?  What can the HR person ask to find out if someone 
> > has these qualities?  OSPF LSA type questions will not help.
> Don't get HR to do that sort of screening.  They suck mightily at it.  I
> lack any sort of HR department to get in the way, and I'm glad of it -- I
> don't see the value in having someone who doesn't know anything about the
> job get in the way of finding the right person for it.  Sure, get 'em to do
> the scutwork of posting job ads, collating resumes, scheduling things and
> sending the "lolz no!" responses, but actually filtering?  Nah, I'll do that
> bit thanks.  If you have to have HR do a filter call, make it *really*
> simple, like "What does TCP stand for?" -- sadly, you'll still probably
> filter out half the applicants for a senior position...

I've noticed a strong correlation between people who don't know what acronyms
stand for, and competence.  People who don't know anything try and figure out
what the acronym stands for - people who want to understand things see it as
just a place holder.

Myself, I'm stumbling.. is TCP like GNU (GNU's Not Unix) and someting like TCP
Control Protocol.  Or is it Transmission Contrl Protocol?  Or is it something
else all together.

Really at the end of the day - it doesn't matter.

Maybe it's more significant to ask what the difference between TCP and UDP is.

One thing people seem to like to bring up again and again is subnetting questions,
which to me seem quite simple on the surface - but can get a little more
complicated.  Like when you have a /24 subnet routed to a customer, how many IP
addresses can they use?  254?  253?  To my thinking - if it's a routed subnet that
means the gateway is on a different address, and it'd be prudent to still have the
double broadcast addresses.  It is also possible to utilise all 256 addresses.  

I think where the most significant differences lie isn't in how people can answer
verbal or written questions with simple problems but in how quickly people can
diagnose complicated of confusing situations.  

Although often there are steps people can take to mitigate against such, things like
foreign DHCP server on the network.  Someone stealing the gateway's IP address leading
to intermittent connectivity, but still being able to ping the gateway, and other hosts
on the network just not outside the network some of the time.  Routing loops, incorrect
subnet masks.  (like when people stick a /24 netmask on a /27 then can't reach another
adjacent /27)

I think that anyone reasonable competent should be able to figure these things out - but
by seeing how they approach these things, how quickly they can diagnose, and fix, and
what level of disruption they cause trying to fix the problem are all significant.

Like in the someone stealing gateway address - say there's a file server, printer etc on
the local subnet, and people are busy working, then it's probably better not being able
to access the larger network, and to keep the local connectivity, but some people seem
to have the idea when things aren't working quite right that it's ok to disrupt what is
working right.


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