We use a programmatic assessment of Linux skills in our hiring process. I'm not thrilled with such assessments, but they do give a good foundation to talk over in the tech interview.

There's this one question that _everyone_ gets wrong, but only on a technicality. They figure out how to find the answer, but they always copy-paste the full contents of the proc 'file' which contains all the possible settings with marks around the currently selected one. The grader want's just the selected value.

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@CarlCravens if the question specifically asks for a single value then pasting everything is wrong imho, no?

@kamme The question asks, "what is the setting of X".

The answer given is technically wrong and right at the same time. It's a matter of perspective.

But I feel that knowing where to find this information, which /proc/foo file controls the setting, is the important part.

(And the part of the assessment I don't like... you don't have to understand what the setting _does_, just where to find it.)

@CarlCravens sounds like it’s maybe time to replace that question then? I’ve been correcting some tests for new hires as well and also noted a question about dns always gives ‘bad’ answers. I’m going to simply change the phasing of the question and hope to get clearer results.

@kamme I have to pay to have the assessment customized and not worth it. How they answer it slightly-wrong still has value.


One of my jobs I taught the interviewer new things about bash/linux (he was the lead java dev, I was interviewing for sysadmin.)

I've also had interviewees teach me new things about bash/linux.

I've had a couple of automated type assessments but never been super happy with the inflexible nature of the results they want.

@dcbaok The inflexible nature is why I
1) use it to establish a baseline of knowledge and the beginning of a conversation; never as a screen that disqualifies someone
2) took the assessment myself and seek to understand the sticking points and why people give the answers they do.

I'm interviewing for near entry-level, and it's a poor use of time to explore "do you understand chmod" in a live interview.

@CarlCravens Our technical interview has a set of question and we always preface this with, "you aren't expected to know all these answers, we just want to know how much you do know around the areas that have caused us problem in the past."

I think the most someone got was... 60% of the answers right. But I'm also looking for how they handle the "I don't know" response and if they do it via bluster or honesty.


I'm really happy when someone gets to the end of one set of questions related to their focus area. (We have questions for DBAs, front-end, and back-end folks.)

Though, to be honest, I'm just happy if they don't have typos (including case-sensitive ones since we're a C# shop) in their resume. :)

@dmoonfire I learn so much reading other people's resumes... what works, what doesn't. I find myself wanting to critique them. And typos and misspellings show a lack of attention to detail, which is crucial in our jobs. Get someone to check your work.

@CarlCravens I know. My boss hate it when I'm just in red every typo on the page.

Boss: "It's the recruiter that did that."

Me: "Then tell the recruiter that thirty typos on the resume lost them deal because this is only two pages."

I have critiqued resumes in interviews. Because I want to see how they respond since the DBA and I are both very detailed-oriented code reviewers and that's one way of giving them an idea of what is like on our team.

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