[rescue] Do you remember when? Security software.....

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Wed Aug 13 15:17:53 CDT 2003

On Wed, 13 Aug 2003, N.Miller wrote:

> In my last job interview with the group [0], the team commented that 
> the last guy had worn a tie to the interview, and not only did they 
> admonish him a bit for it, but the "made fun of him", too.  Tough crowd.

Well, ya gotta admit, sometimes the stereotypes do have an element of
truth to them.  I've never met a sysadmin who could stand wearing a tie to
work.  Most of my Unix/geek friends don't even like to wear shoes at work
(myself included) or even pants if they don't have to (oh, the joys of
telecommuting! :-)

At my previous job, the admin group got the peculiar opportunity to hire
our own boss; the department head let our boss go, and we then were
involved in choosing her replacement.  After several days of going over
resumes and doing the interviews, yeah, we got a little jaded... 

One interesting phenomenon we encountered was that all but one of the
candidates swore during our group interview.  It was bizarre - I'd never
heard anyone even jokingly let slip even mild profanity in a job
interview, and we realized that "clearly, we aren't the group they're
trying to impress" - maybe it was some clumsy attempt at bonding with the
hirelings or something.  I may cuss like a sailor in the server room at
3AM when I'm re-mirroring a failed boot drive or re-torquing that accursed
memory riser card in a 420R or something, but during the interview?  

BTW, we hired the guy who said "the best way to show up your boss is to do
_exactly what he says_."  Heh heh.  We held him to it, too. :-)  (He
turned out to be one of the best guys I've ever worked for & with, and he
understood my passion for rescuing old systems.  See?  We're still
marginally on-topic. :-)

Anyway, I think the key to a successful interview (from either side of the
table) is to demonstrate that you know HOW to think, not necessarily WHAT
to think.  If you're a good problem solver, a flexible thinker, and have a
solid grasp of the fundamentals (how systems work, how to diagnose
problems, etc), then you can deal with the specifics of almost any
situation.  That's where certifications are almost counterproductive, and
where most standardized testing fails miserably:  all it tells you is who
the best memorizers and test takers are.  It does _not_ tell you which
person you're going to want to have answering the pager at 3AM when
something has gone suddenly wrong...

Suits and HR types tend to think rigidly, in black & white terms; you all
know how much running a large and complex network is still more art than
science these days, but they don't get it.  Suits want things to be neat,
orderly, and predictable; HR types want to believe that people are
interchangeable parts.  The computer bidness just ain't that way.  Hell,
the entire Internet is built on a cooperative, best-effort model; it only
exists because creative, complex, tirelessly dedicated and often very
nutty people made it happen.  The best companies are the ones who
understand and nurture that:  the suits' job is to bring in the money and
get out of the way. :-)

I wish all of you who are job searching the best of luck; while I've been
so lucky and so blessed, it's entirely possible I'll be joining your ranks
in the next few months.  I work for a startup that survived the collapse,
but even with our burn rate cut to the bone, the cash reserve isn't going
to last forever.  We're 8 guys (with NO suits! :-) running a global 24x7
operation.  I've been outside the city limits twice in the last 3.5 years,
and never out of cell phone range.  ("I'll be stress free when I'm dead!")

There are days when I think unemployment would be a welcome vacation...  
but it pains me to hear about so many smart/funny/interesting Rescuers who
are struggling. :-/  And it just seems completely incongruous that here 
when we're supposedly ushering in the "Information Age" the people who are 
best equipped to do that aren't finding work!  Strange times...

-- Chris

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