A while back I went to attend that second interview & from that it became very clear they have very little experience interviewing potential employees.
I was asked to write a report on a minute batch script, and how its performance could be increased. Then I had a choice of several tasks including writing a search engine for a website, and some script selecting the amount of rows to be shown in a web page or a M$ Access task importing and creating a form for some product db.
The batch script task went relatively well and I composed a nice little report on it.
I have no experience other than a little Python in web languages so I offered to create the search engine using Python but that would take too long to install/configure apparently(not necessarily - it could be a local script called with the search string as parameter going through some html files. No need for a web server but I should have told them that).
Instead I was to do the M$ Access task. Now, I absolutely abhor Access and try to avoid using it wherever I can but in this case I was stuck. A nice opportunity to show off my investigative and learning abilities
. I ended up telling him how I would have done it in theory.
The major problem during all this was that they were also judging me on how I interacted with the rest of the team so I was left with the choice of going hard core on the tasks ahead and demonstrating abilities they would hire me for or divide my time between sharing jokes and Access giving me a hard time, something that could be crucial to the final decision.
I decided to go for the engage in small talk and joking about female programmers of 'unconventional beauty' option, listening intently to any topic of conversation that could be exploited to my advantage. In the end it was left to discussing ways of finding out whether this female really is a member of the opposite sex.
One thing struck me most - there was more talk of cars and women than technology, maybe down to naivety,but I expected to hear more technology relating topics and debating C#'s strengths.
In the end I was affably informed that there would be no future for me there:
"We discussed your time with us after you left and were very positive about your attitude to work and your social fit within the company.
However as we were conducting the interviews, the skills the company will need in the future have begun to change and we have decided to move forward with the appointment of an administration person instead of a technical one, which will allow the rest of us to concentrate on technical matters more.
Ah, well. At-least it wasn't down to my skills, if the e-mail is anything to go by.
If I had been in their position I would have given the candidate a problem which they can solve in their language of choice to demonstrate ability as it was said that was what they were looking for. In the end this process, IMO, was as useful as trying to determine their administrative abilities
Shortly before the interview I put my CV on-line and I have now received an offer from IBM, Scotland for a position in Technical Support. Ah, well I have to start somewhere and the bottom rung is not below me. If I pass the interview(s) it is my intention to find and apply to a department that takes my fancy such as S/W development. Apparently The Big Blue is quite good in the training it provides for its people and it is up to them to decide whether I posses what they're looking for in a developer. If I fail the interview or am fed up with the job and see no chances of climbing the ladder and my interest in IT is still there I will conduct a BSC in CS, god willing
So what would be best before and during the interview:
Read up on their history, including financial past?
Mention I have watched Pirates of Silicon Valley several times and do believe you cannot rely on such media to give them a fair representation?
Revise the history of s/w and especially theirs? [Do they have any association with Oracle?]
Congratulate them on their improved profits compared to the same quarter last year? I doubt it...
The irony of them not seeing the need for personal computers and now selling off their PC dep?
Ask them why they would like to hire ME/what instigated their interest?
What kind of h/w questions could one expect? [It is a hardware support job for overseas clients - thus not in English]
Any other general interview tips would also be much appreciated.
ATM I think my main weakness is my native language as it is currently not up to the standard that it could be, having spend several years in the UK now, but ill just have to convince them it'll be back in optimal shape in no-time.
If I am successful I'll be coming back asking for tips on how to gain promotion - move sideways.