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  Annoying Interview Q  (Read 3153 times)
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Offline SteveSmith
« Posted 2017-04-24 12:34:46 »

Just thought I'd share this and see if anyone else would get the right answer.  It's a question I got at an interview (about 2 years ago now but still annoys me!).  It was part of a verbal section of the interview, so it wasn't multiple choice or a question paper or anything.  It went something like this:

"What does a Continuous Integration System (e.g. Jenkins) where the system automatically builds your software, require to do it's job?"

What would you reply, bearing in mind it was an interview, so you want to look and sound intelligent! Smiley

(EDIT: I had to put the deliberate mispelling of "Question" in the subject since I wasn't allowed to use the word "Question".)

Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


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« Reply #1 - Posted 2017-04-24 12:37:02 »

It requires someone else to set it up. Next!

Cas Smiley

Offline Riven
Administrator

« JGO Overlord »


Medals: 1324
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Exp: 16 years


Hand over your head.


« Reply #2 - Posted 2017-04-24 12:46:26 »

I think the question wasn't about configuration, but about the flows:
  • repo -> test -> artifact
  • artifacts -> deployments

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Offline williamwoles

Junior Devvie


Medals: 4



« Reply #3 - Posted 2017-04-24 12:49:29 »

Depends how you interpret the question, because of course you can go through the tools which are required, but in my opinion it was not the goal of the question. I think more on project suitability for CI tools, and in my opinion for CI to be able to do its job, it requires the application to have significant test coverage (since CI tools main purpose is to prevent integration problems) and properly configured build system environment (with database migration tools, release management, etc). Additionally, I would probably speak about the agile environment, since when the builds are failing you require someone to take care of them and generally agile teams devote some % of for maintenance and are ready to jump in almost at any time to solve the problem.
Offline DrHalfway
« Reply #4 - Posted 2017-04-24 13:33:16 »

requires a computer and sometimes an internet connection. Almost always requires a monkey to maintain it.

Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 976
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Exp: 16 years


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« Reply #5 - Posted 2017-04-24 13:54:04 »

Reminds me of this interview question:
Interviewer: Design a lock-free list.
Candidate: No.
Interviewer: Hired!

Cas Smiley

Offline SteveSmith
« Reply #6 - Posted 2017-04-24 15:29:08 »

Thanks for the replies.  To answer some of them, there was a specific answer that they were looking for, and it was a specific thing (i.e. not a concept) that they wanted to hear. 

And no correct answers yet.  (Phew, it's not just me then!)

Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 976
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Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #7 - Posted 2017-04-24 15:50:13 »

The real answer is, it depends. What do you want the CIS to do? They do more than just run javac every 5 minutes.

Cas Smiley

Offline 65K
« Reply #8 - Posted 2017-04-24 17:29:01 »

You wouldn't want to work anywhere anyway where employees are selected by guessing games...

Lethal Running - a RPG about a deadly game show held in a futuristic dysoptian society.
Offline Riven
Administrator

« JGO Overlord »


Medals: 1324
Projects: 4
Exp: 16 years


Hand over your head.


« Reply #9 - Posted 2017-04-24 17:36:18 »

Ah, come on. You should be able to work your way out of ambiguous questions - just keep asking questions, that's your job - coding is a given.

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Offline 65K
« Reply #10 - Posted 2017-04-24 17:48:59 »

Sure. What I understand here is that it was annoying because there was only one and only super smart accepted answer.

Lethal Running - a RPG about a deadly game show held in a futuristic dysoptian society.
Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 976
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Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #11 - Posted 2017-04-24 18:03:18 »

Sounds like you dodged a bullet then (assuming you weren't offered a placement)... interviewer was basically being a bit of a dick if they hinged any import on the answer to such a question.

Cas Smiley

Offline SteveSmith
« Reply #12 - Posted 2017-04-24 18:54:45 »

Well, I didn't get the job, but of course I'm not sure how much it hinged on this particular question.  There were plenty of other pointless quiz questions (e.g. what's the diff between public/private/protected etc...).  No actual coding; I meant, who cares how well you can code as long as you know the different between public and private?  BTW, this was at the head office of a well known UK small-supermarket chain.  My answer to this one was something like "any required libraries, access to an email server (not a definite requirement of course), an internet connection."  Things like that.

And the answer was "the source code"!  WTF!?  I felt like saying "Well, if we're getting obvious, it also needs electricity.  And oxygen for the programmers.  And gravity to keep it anchored to the earth" .  The interviewer then spent 5 minutes explaining what CI was and why it was used, presumably under the assumption I didn't know, although I was so incredulous I'd stopped listening by this point.  I just wanted to say "I do known all this, having used it for years" but I thought it would sound a bit blunt.

Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 976
Projects: 3
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« Reply #13 - Posted 2017-04-24 19:56:36 »

After 25~ odd years programming I was asked in an interview at Sony to reverse an array of 10 floats. That was the only question. I kid you not, but apparently most of the applicants couldn't actually do it. I got the job.

Cas Smiley

Offline FabulousFellini
« Reply #14 - Posted 2017-04-24 20:07:46 »

After 25~ odd years programming I was asked in an interview at Sony to reverse an array of 10 floats. That was the only question. I kid you not, but apparently most of the applicants couldn't actually do it. I got the job.

Cas Smiley

What do you do at Sony?

-FabulousFellini
www.fabulousfellini.com
Offline SteveSmith
« Reply #15 - Posted 2017-04-24 20:36:59 »

After 25~ odd years programming I was asked in an interview at Sony to reverse an array of 10 floats. That was the only question. I kid you not, but apparently most of the applicants couldn't actually do it. I got the job.

Cas Smiley

What do you do at Sony?

He reverses arrays of floats.  Grin

Online princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 976
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #16 - Posted 2017-04-24 21:24:41 »

Hehe Cheesy

I was working in Broadcast Production Labs Research, doing hi-def video stuff and tape recorder controllers with RS422. Not exactly groundbreaking work. It was 7 years ago now though!

Cas Smiley

Offline DrHalfway
« Reply #17 - Posted 2017-04-24 23:42:50 »

We changed our strategy at our workplace for hiring developers. We don't even ask them where they graduated, or what they can/can't do. We give them a real-life, very relevant problem that currently exists in our stack, and get them to come up with a solution. Of course we pay them a temporary contract rate for the project and they can also work from home. The expected time it takes is generally 2-3 days (if one of us had to sit down and do it) so we expect candidates not to take more than 2 weeks.

Of potentially 20-30 candidates, only 1-3 actually finish it. The final interview is simply a discussion about the problem and their solution (and why they did certain things the way they did, the thought process etc...). By the time they are hired, they have already contributed relevant code into the stack.

Offline Opiop
« Reply #18 - Posted 2017-04-25 17:28:19 »

~snip~

I want to work where you work. I don't have a college degree but I do have two years of professional experience now and it worries me to no end that no one will consider me after I leave my current company. I've gained a lot of great experience here as we're a relatively small company and we work on some very complex software that millions of people use every month. Because of that I've been forced to learn rapidly and be able to teach new hires. But I feel like all of that will fall to the wayside if someone with a degree applies to the same position I did.

I guess it doesn't help that I would really love to work a remote position, from what I can tell those are even harder to get a hold of...
Offline SteveSmith
« Reply #19 - Posted 2017-04-25 19:36:51 »

I wouldn't worry about it.  I've been programming professionally for just over 20 years and never been without a job, and I don't have any degrees or programming qualifications, just a few completely irrelevant A-Levels.  As long as you can do the job well you should be fine.

Offline Riven
Administrator

« JGO Overlord »


Medals: 1324
Projects: 4
Exp: 16 years


Hand over your head.


« Reply #20 - Posted 2017-04-25 20:50:56 »

... been forced to learn rapidly and be able to teach new hires. But I feel like all of that will fall to the wayside if someone with a degree applies to the same position I did.
After 3-5 years of experience, nobody cares about your education - it only affects your salary. Usually this is 'too bad', and a life long punishment for not finishing your education, but you'll manage just fine with a few hundred / month less to spend.

I guess it doesn't help that I would really love to work a remote position, from what I can tell those are even harder to get a hold of...
Working remote is a blessing and a curse - I'd be against it, because you'll be highly productive, but due to the impared face-to-face communication you'll miss a lot of signals from 'the business' on what they want, versus the spec.

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Learn how to award medals... and work your way up the social rankings!
Offline DrHalfway
« Reply #21 - Posted 2017-04-26 09:15:03 »


Small companies/startups is the best way to gain new knowledge and skills. I'd hate to be stuck in a large company in some little corner doing the same crap over and over again, regardless of how good the pay is. The Destination is nowhere near as awesome/fun as the journey to get there.

Working remote has its own challenges especially from a management point of view and also communication. I personally prefer working in person with the rest of the team. More fun that way aswell.

Offline dime26

JGO Ninja


Medals: 60
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Exp: 12 years


Should traffic wardens be armed?


« Reply #22 - Posted 2017-04-26 12:46:40 »

"What does a Continuous Integration System (e.g. Jenkins) where the system automatically builds your software, require to do it's job?"

I would have said it needs configuring.

I have never had to do a coding test as part of an interview, personally I think a portfolio of work or someone showing and explaining their work to you is more beneficial.

A friend was recently asked to explain the what an Abstract class is, he could name the language before giving a definition, also what is an interface. Often we use these things everyday without knowing the wikipedia definitions of them, the interviewers are often not technical people and will be looking for jus that.

Offline philfrei
« Reply #23 - Posted 2017-04-26 17:07:02 »

@Opiop
If you get into a situation where you need to pump up your credentials due to a lack of college degree, going the "Certification" route might be a reasonable option for bolstering the work experience. But there are things that a college degree offers that are good to have, too, if you can manage to find some time. (I'm thinking about "breadth" requirements like Civics, History, foreign languages, basic writing skills, mathematics background.)

~snip~

I want to work where you work. I don't have a college degree but I do have two years of professional experience now and it worries me to no end that no one will consider me after I leave my current company. I've gained a lot of great experience here as we're a relatively small company and we work on some very complex software that millions of people use every month. Because of that I've been forced to learn rapidly and be able to teach new hires. But I feel like all of that will fall to the wayside if someone with a degree applies to the same position I did.

I guess it doesn't help that I would really love to work a remote position, from what I can tell those are even harder to get a hold of...

music and music apps: http://adonax.com
Offline philfrei
« Reply #24 - Posted 2017-04-26 17:28:42 »

I seem to amplify ambiguity--am always having to expend energy cutting away options. I'd do pretty bad with an interview question like that. But to be honest, a lot has to do with not sharing the same experience or context or points of reference with the other party.

Such a situation might not be the best fit anyway. Employers with not a lot of expertise in what they are hiring for probably really do need someone who's seen it all and can easily suss out their intentions and correct for their mistaken or limited ideas.

In other words, sometimes stupid questions are useful screening tools. I'm thinking, for example, the Nigerian Prince type scams: might as well make the initial proposal/contact full of obvious signals of the fraud involved because that fails faster with people discerning enough to likely reject the scam as they learn more about it.

In the music biz, it's kind of like being just good enough to play really well if people around you aren't making mistakes but being thrown if they get off, versus being good enough not to maintain and play well even when others bungle something in their parts.

music and music apps: http://adonax.com
Offline SteveSmith
« Reply #25 - Posted 2017-04-26 19:20:17 »

Often we use these things everyday without knowing the wikipedia definitions of them, the interviewers are often not technical people and will be looking for just that.

I couldn't agree more.  For example, I've been asked if I can a name some design patterns.  In all the time I've been programming, whether professionally or not, I could count on one hand the number of times I've heard anyone actually use the name of a pattern (apart from "MVC"), but interviewers expect you to be able to reel them all off with their definitions.  In the real world you just do the coding without thinking of the name of a pattern.  And the concept of "IoC" had been around for years before I ever knew it had now been formally given a buzzword that interviewers like to ask about.

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