Awful interview...

Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
Had one of the worst interviews ever last week (in a 25+ year career so far).

I was told by a contact on LinkedIn that there was an opening for an architect in networking/virtualization. I sent in my CV and received a formal invitation to meet with the IT manager.

I showed up and there were 4 people, one of them on an tablet (remote video). They were friendly and all. However, I wasn't expecting a technical interview.

I showed up with a bad headache and tired at the end of a work day (I get up at 5am) so definitely not at my best. The interview basically went this way. Tell us about yourself. Uh ok. Then, Networking questions from guy 1. Followed by VMware questions from guy 2. Microsoft question from guy 3. Guy on tablet actually CLOSED the video session (wtf???)

As a a generalist, it's hard to do specific technical interviews like this without preparation. I took the NSX exam a while back because I enjoy the technology and as a CCNP, there was a waiver for the class requirement. However, having never worked with it (other than labbed for the exam, months ago), I wasn't expecting detailed questions. At work, I've been stuck doing operation/integration of Exchange 2010 for the past month or so and that's all I have on my mind. So asking questions about anything networking really didn't come first to mind. I felt like a fraud, that I looked like an idiot in front of those people.

There's never been a single challenge where I didn't deliver and where my client/employer didn't say I exceeded their expectations, however I'm awful at selling myself, especially under these conditions.

I actually asked them during the interview what they were looking for as I had no formal job description to rely on.

Definitely not my finest hour. But I know what I'm worth, and however much this would have been a great challenge for and how much I would have contributed to it's success, they'll never know. I actually haven't heard back from them, nor do I expect to.

This might sound like a rant, but it's more of a lesson learned. If you don't know what you're getting into for an interview, you're setting yourself up to fail. Make sure you take the time to prepare!

I just feel like I was ambushed and set up to fail.
Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...

Comments

  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,772 Mod
    I am so sorry. I hate interviews like that (and feeling like that). I think I could write a book about some of my job seeking 'adventures'. ha
    It definitely builds 'character' does it not. ha
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I expect to have this sort of interview at some point in my career as I want to be a high-level generalist. I've already had some very unexpected interviews and you never really know even if the process is mentioned earlier. Going in blind sounds awful but as long as you can train yourself to not try to figure out what's going to happen and instead just live in the now it should be much easier. I'm working on that but haven't quite learned it yet.

    If you don't mind, how did you go about becoming a high-level, architect(?), generalist? Did you always find generalist positions or did you take on separate server and network positions? I'm finding more generalist positions lately but it's tough to appeal to them without having the generalist experience, in my case it's lack of network experience.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    25+ years experience going from hardware repair to sysadmin/team leader to technical architect (detail design of solutions/implementation) to infrastructure architect.

    Always had a generalist attitude/position, never dedicated to one specific tech/field. It's hard to keep up to date and top notch in everything. I'm fuzzy on networking but get me back in it and in a few weeks, it'll all come back. I'm doing Exchange stuff right now and I'm fairly comfortable with it. Ask me again in a year... whole other story. As I get older, I find that while I'm still pretty sharp, retaining unused skills is harder :) I'm only 45 btw ;)
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks for the insight, I know what you mean about attaining so much knowledge. I'm a recent CCNA and had to lab for a good week to prepare for a lab interview, still wasn't quite prepared. MCSA and working with windows came in between. Knowing all areas immediately after being asked is going to be a struggle for anyone that doesn't have a very dynamic position doing all these things regularly. Hopefully employers understand that otherwise I don't think they'll fill the position in a reasonable time, if ever. Which is apparently a big issue in the IT field. As they keep asking for more well rounded employees they make the position more unlikely to fill. I draw the line at learning to program.

    I get tired of doing the same sort of things all the time, hence why I want to be a generalist. Give me a year of servers and I'm ready to get into networking. After a year of networking I'm ready to deal with servers again, it's a revolving door and I'd really like to shorten up the time frames to months if not weeks.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    There's never been a single challenge where I didn't deliver and where my client/employer didn't say I exceeded their expectations, however I'm awful at selling myself, especially under these conditions.

    So, you are good at your job, but they couldn't figure that out, because they can't run their hiring process.
    I actually asked them during the interview what they were looking for as I had no formal job description to rely on.

    They didn't know what they were looking for, or if they did, they didn't understand how to interview for it. Why would you keep the job details secret from an interviewee? How can that possibly help you find the right candidate? What if the candidate looks at the job description and realises "No, not for me"? You just wasted the time of 4 people. This situation sounds crazy.
    I just feel like I was ambushed and set up to fail.

    They just don't sound like they are good at hiring. Which suggests that they might be bad at other stuff, HR, management, running things. You might very well have dodged a bullet there. I'd love to see how they run projects. "Sorry, we can't give you any requirements. Just build it, and we'll tell you if we like it. We'll know it when we see it."
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • elToritoelTorito Member Posts: 102
    Does an infrastructure architect even need to have the kind of "deep dive" technical knowledge that your interviewers apparently expected? Seems a bit misplaced, IMO. It's not the architect's role to press all the buttons in the IT environment. It should be sufficient that the architect knows that the buttons are there.
    WIP: CISSP, MCSE Server Infrastructure
    Casual reading: CCNP, Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference, Network Warrior


  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It was a weird situation. It's not that they didn't have a job description, it's because of the way it was proposed to me (I wasn't looking - I was told by a contact there about it). So no formal job description, just vague expectations. The HR person should have followed up however with a full description AND when sending the invite, should have said it was a technical interview with 4 people, not "you will meet with the IT manager"...
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    elTorito wrote: »
    Does an infrastructure architect even need to have the kind of "deep dive" technical knowledge that your interviewers apparently expected? Seems a bit misplaced, IMO. It's not the architect's role to press all the buttons in the IT environment. It should be sufficient that the architect knows that the buttons are there.

    The position was odd (like the one I hold now) where you do the design, implement it then pass it on to ops. More of an architect/integrator than pure architect. I like that as it keeps me sharp but it's getting tougher to be a generalist good a everything :)
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    You need to work on selling yourself. You don't have to show them that under your shirt is a "S" but just be direct.

    I have had a couple of bad ones as well...
    About a year ago I had received a call for an interview for one company.
    The CEO and one tech person was there. They wanted a second interview with the consultant as well.

    I answered all of their questions but one really got me. "Why do you have all of these certifications?" by the consultant. I looked at him straight in the eye and told him "As a consultant you know that you have to keep updated on the technology and since I work for a MSP I touch everything. If you don't keep up and refresh your knowledge it is harder to obtain a job. Plus it helps my organization to gain Partner status when I obtain vendor certifications."

    Needless to say after I said that I knew I may have hit a nerve with him since he was older and his certifications may not have been updated.

    Another position I interviewed for was a Security Analyst. The position read as a technical position. The employee was asking me technical questions...not hard and the guy who would be my boss was asking me auditing questions, I did with ease.
    I asked if they were looking for someone technical or with more auditing experience..
    The supervisor said "We don't know. We are looking for someone to fill the gaps that we have and we don't know what they are now."
    I ended the interview quickly as I thought it was not in my best interest to work for someone who does not know what they need in a role in which they wrote the job description.

    Good Luck!!!
  • gespensterngespenstern Member Posts: 1,243 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Lol, I remember myself in a similar situation.

    I say accept it and move on, there's no way to prepare yourself for every possible interview scenario, you just have some of them and one of them plays out well, that's it.
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    These days...always assume it will be a panel interview with people grilling you the whole time. Personally I don't think it's the best tactic but companies got the idea from somewhere and ran with it.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    TechGuru80 wrote: »
    These days...always assume it will be a panel interview with people grilling you the whole time. Personally I don't think it's the best tactic but companies got the idea from somewhere and ran with it.

    It's generally in the company's interest to be clear about the process. The idea isn't to trick candidates, the idea is to figure out if candidates are a good match for the job. It sounds like this company didn't do a good job making it clear what they were interested in and what their process would be. That made it more difficult for the candidate to give them the information that they need to make a good decision.

    It's not really smart practice, and even less excusable at these senior levels where making a bad decision can cost easily $100k's, and a good decision can make 100's k$.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    It does not allow for an unbiased opinion to be formulated by the interviewer because everybody is there and if somebody asks a bogus question it could impact the opinion of others. Obviously it should have been stated it would be a panel interview but such as life...I have been through several interviews and there are very few "good interviewers". Usually people come on too strong or not strong enough in their questioning. I would think that at high levels they would want to be as intimate as possible because as OctalDump stated...there is a lot at stake.
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Someone should read this at that company...

    The Technical Interview Is Dead (And No One Should Mourn) | TechCrunch

    It’s the fundamental concept of being brought into a room, grilled on the spot with technical questions that must be answered without any of the usual resources, and then being made to write code on a whiteboard. All this on the nonsensical pretext that it’s a decent measure of whether the candidate is a good software engineer.
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Someone should read this at that company...

    The Technical Interview Is Dead (And No One Should Mourn) | TechCrunch

    It’s the fundamental concept of being brought into a room, grilled on the spot with technical questions that must be answered without any of the usual resources, and then being made to write code on a whiteboard. All this on the nonsensical pretext that it’s a decent measure of whether the candidate is a good software engineer.


    Maybe email it to them anonymously ;)
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    If you put a certification on your resume prepared to be grilled on it. I'd be expecting someone with a CCNP on their resume to be able to answer some pretty technically deep networking questions as well. Studying beforehand or not. Something to keep in mind for the future.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Member Posts: 2,991 ■■■■■■■■■□
    What networker050184 said is good advice. I have removed certs and job description bullet points from my resume for recent jobs because I no longer felt comfortable knowledge wise with the subject. If it's older job duties I leave them on because I would hope people interviewing can see I haven't mentioned those things in any of my more recent job duty descriptions.

    I had a couple of interviews that the job description was lacking and I politely turned the interview around in my favor because I ended up interviewing them because I politely explained I wanted to make sure I was a good fit for their company. It worked with the HR/Manager types because I think it shows interest on your part that you don't want just a job but you want to work somewhere you can actually provide what your employer needs.
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    What networker050184 said is good advice. I have removed certs and job description bullet points from my resume for recent jobs because I no longer felt comfortable knowledge wise with the subject. If it's older job duties I leave them on because I would hope people interviewing can see I haven't mentioned those things in any of my more recent job duty descriptions.

    I had a couple of interviews that the job description was lacking and I politely turned the interview around in my favor because I ended up interviewing them because I politely explained I wanted to make sure I was a good fit for their company. It worked with the HR/Manager types because I think it shows interest on your part that you don't want just a job but you want to work somewhere you can actually provide what your employer needs.

    Well, when it shows that I passed the CCNP 3 years ago and had little work with networking since then, it should be obvious. And that's what I stated during the interview. I am always open to do hands on stuff but they were looking for someone with troubleshooting expertise based on the question types I got. Nothing I have done much of (I design, build, configure and yes, I do troubleshoot issues during setup but not off the top of my head.).

    Anyway, just a word of caution to anyone facing this kind of situation...
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I don't see why it should be obvious that someone with a professional level cert on their resume can't handle deep technical questions on the subject personally. They are only valid a few years.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I don't see why it should be obvious that someone with a professional level cert on their resume can't handle deep technical questions on the subject personally. They are only valid a few years.

    Depends... I took the CCNP as a challenge for myself, while I had an assignment to design, configure and deploy a new network infrastructure. I enjoyed studying, and did a great job for my client. An external audit had nothing but positive comments about my work. The deployment was EIGRP based, multiple sites, VPN links, L3 routing end to end (no spanning tree to deal with).

    Jump ahead to this year, I'm working on my 2nd design, this time using OSPF, similar topology. Single area 0 in each site (MPLS provider didn't want to run a superbackbone for my over their network) so each office is separated by the MPLS (BGP) cloud. Nothing extravagant there, but very functional.

    First questions I got: How would you go about troubleshooting Spanning Tree? Then, let's go for some BGP questions. etc... Get me back into networking full time, I'll answer anything you want. Put me in a real life scenario where I have to deal with this, I'll get it done. Not from stuff I learned and forgot 3 years ago because it hasn't been used however. From lifelong troubleshooting skills...

    If my job was 100% networking, and I had the experience behind to back it up, I would have aced the networking part. But like someone else mentioned, as an architect, I'm generally not expected nor required to do these kinds of tasks. I'm a generalist, I'm good/very good at a lot of things, just not at interviewing :)

    So before saying that it should be obvious, actually reading the CV of someone to understand where he's been, what he's done, especially when you're calling him for an interview, should be the first task of a good interviewer/manager. I have the VCP-NV cert on my CV, but 0 experience with it, and I forgot most of it already other than the general concepts. I did pass it, and it would probably take me a week or so to get back into it and refresh all the material. But nowhere on my CV do I show any experience with the product. So you can't expect me to be top notch on it.

    I know that when I interview people, I look at both. Certs and recent usage of the skills learned for that cert. Common sense.
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I don't see why it should be obvious that someone with a professional level cert on their resume can't handle deep technical questions on the subject personally. They are only valid a few years.

    And judging from your name and certs, you are 100% in networking so I would expect you (again depending on work experience) to be top notch for these kinds of questions. Now, let me ask you about Microsoft Exchange design, powershell scripting, vmware scripting, vShield configuration, etc...

    As a specialist, it's a lot easier to attack these kinds of interviews. It just wasn't for me. That's it.
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Well, I don't have those certs on my resume is the difference I think you're missing.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Well, I don't have those certs on my resume is the difference I think you're missing.

    I put them on as it shows I keep up to date, or will face the challenge when needed. Not to brag that I have all the answers at all times :)
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Why you put them on there and people's perception reading your resume in an interview probably aren't the same though.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Architect192Architect192 Member Posts: 157 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Possible...
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
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