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John Lokanis

Interview Questions

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QUOTE (crelf @ Aug 19 2008, 09:24 AM)

That's a terrifically horrible question, and frankly none of the interviewer's business - I'd consider a question like that borderline discrimination.

I agree that it's a horrible question, but disagree that it's likely discriminatory. Inappropriate, perhaps, as I think questions about an interviewee's personal life tend to be. If your family is well enough off and/or you went to an inexpensive enough school that your family could pay for it, well, should that really reflect badly on you?

Not intending to threadjack, but ... asking an interviewee if he/she is married. Appropriate or inappropriate?

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QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 10:40 AM)

I never use strict type defs, unless I put them on a GUI I am going to show to my user.

I have always the feeling why use a strict type def? Could you enlighten me?

Ton

The purpose of a strict type def, as you probably know, is to maintain the look and feel of the control across all VIs where it's used. I'm talking subvis here. So if you open two VI's that have the same control side by side, you can quickly tell that both controls refer to the same datatype because they look identical. You can even add some details such as a specific color border on the cluster and such. If you allow the developer to alter this control in any way, then this indicates to someone else that it's not the same datatype. LabVIEW is very visual and the more visual cues you give out in your program, the better.

On user interfaces, this has the same affect but for different reasons. You want to make sure the control is consistent throughout. For example, if you create a Cancel button with a special glyph on it then you want to make sure all your UIs use this cancel button so they all look the same. User interfaces must be consistent. It also helps to collect all your strict type defs in a dedicated Controls folder and label them appropriately. For example "Cancel Button.ctl", "Data Export Cluster.ctl" and such.

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QUOTE (eaolson @ Aug 19 2008, 01:47 PM)

Not intending to threadjack, but ... asking an interviewee if he/she is married. Appropriate or inappropriate?

Innappropriate, and (at least in the USA) I think asking marital status is illegal.

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QUOTE (PaulG. @ Aug 19 2008, 01:20 PM)

After reading through this post I'll offer a suggestion: stick to the technical stuff. :yes:

Couldn't agree more. So is this question personal or technical: "can a cat-type be stuffed into a variant?" :D

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QUOTE (eaolson @ Aug 19 2008, 07:47 PM)

Not intending to threadjack, but ... asking an interviewee if he/she is married. Appropriate or inappropriate?

Hijack succeeded.

In the Netherlands it's quite normal to have you marital status on your resume (including children).

The question I got was 'If I call your wife what will she tell about you'.

This are items that are relevant to a job. For instance I got the question today if I could enter a support team for our company. This includes traveling to other countries for two weeks, heavy night work. Someone that is married and has children is not very suitable for such a job.

It are question regarding your fitness for such jobs.

Ton

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QUOTE (crelf @ Aug 19 2008, 11:03 AM)

I agree again. Once they're hired, you can unleash your local office gossip hound on them, but during an interview, it's a no no. Of course there are exceptions, but I don't think anyone here falls under that category... or do they?

QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 11:11 AM)

This are items that are relevant to a job. For instance I got the question today if I could enter a support team for our company. This includes traveling to other countries for two weeks, heavy night work. Someone that is married and has children is not very suitable for such a job.

It are question regarding your fitness for such jobs.

I disagree. I was married with kids when I had to do exactly that. So what?

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QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 01:11 PM)

Again, I think this is a personal question and should not be asked. If an interviewer wants to call a reference, they should, but they should not ask the candidate what the reference would say about them.

QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 01:11 PM)

This are items that are relevant to a job. For instance I got the question today if I could enter a support team for our company. This includes traveling to other countries for two weeks, heavy night work. Someone that is married and has children is not very suitable for such a job. It are question regarding your fitness for such jobs.

You are correct, but if this is the case then you should ask the candidate what they can or cannot do, not if they are married or not. You can not assume that just because they are married they can't travel overseas for two weeks. So instead of "Are you married?", you should ask" Would you be able to travel on assignment overseas for two weeks and work extra hours at night if necessary?". Then the candidate can decide if they are willing to do the job or not, based on their personal situation.

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QUOTE (Michael_Aivaliotis @ Aug 19 2008, 08:16 PM)

I disagree. I was married with kids when I had to do exactly that. So what?

We go Off-Topic major, but an job-ad that says:

  • Dynamic time hours
  • Travels a lot

For me I can't do such jobs anymore, my wife is working nights and finding a kindergarten that is open at evenings is not something I like to do. Now let's go back on topic, questions about your home situation can be appropriate.

How would you feel about the following question:

'Do you have a driver's license?'

Ton

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QUOTE (crelf @ Aug 19 2008, 06:16 PM)

Not at all - I don't think you should delete it.

Ben wanted to know how candidates "juggled demands of their time", so a direct question would be "Please give me an example of how you've effectively implemented time management."

How about "my parents are dead so a community organization gave me money to help get me through university"? Or, "my mother left home when I was 8 and my dad is a crack user, so I used a government welfare program"? I just don't think that question has been thought out enough - there are more answers that then ones that you expect. I think engineers should definitely stick to asking technical questions, and leave the social questions to your HR departments - they've (hopefully) been trained on how to get that sort of information appropriately.

I'm picturing an interview saying, "So, I see your experian score is below 550, so you're obviously irresponsible - what's up with that?" Is anyone else appalled by that?

On a personal note: when I came to America, I found it more difficult than it should have been to get by as I didn't have a credit history. My credit score in Australia was 0 (yes, that's right, zero), which means perfect credit. Try explaining that to a credit issuing agency over here (it wasn't a trivial exercise to get power and telephone to our apartment). Imagine if a similar attitude was taken to job interviews?

OK, my rant's done.

Ok, now I think I got one point right, you can't really compare between countries. Now I think I understand why some people consider this question inappropriate.

In France, such question is asked to know 2 things :

- did you have a part time job during your studies (which is neither a shame, neither a proof of hard-working)?

- did you work during the summer breaks between 2 university years?

BUT these things always appear on a resume (still talking for I know : France), and therefore the question is an opportunity given to the interviewed person to explain what experience he got from these small jobs.

One point for you Chris, why not asking "What useful experience do you think you got for this job from your student jobs?" :rolleyes:

I have no idea of what the "credit history" can be, I don't think we have an equivalent in France.. but this is hardcore off topic :laugh:

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Thanks for all the good suggestions!

This is a very interesting topic. I will be using some of these questions today!

As for the tangent about asking about money, credit scores and marital status, all of that is strinctly illegal to ask in the USA. We have to be very careful about not violating anti-discrimination laws. My job is to evaluate tech skills and personality relating to their ability to work within my team. For me, a motivated person with good communication skills and ability to learn new things quickly can overcome any lack of current technical skills. You can't teach someone who does not want to learn!

-John

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QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 02:11 PM)

Yes, but they also might be - it's not your call: it's the employees call on whether they'd be suitable. In short, the employer should ask the employee if they can support the task, not ask them if they have a fmaily and then make an assumption wither way.

QUOTE (LV_FPGA_SE @ Aug 19 2008, 02:33 PM)

You are correct, but if this is the case then you should ask the candidate what they can or cannot do, not if they are married or not. You can not assume that just because they are married they can't travel overseas for two weeks. So instead of "Are you married?", you should ask" Would you be able to travel on assignment overseas for two weeks and work extra hours at night if necessary?". Then the candidate can decide if they are willing to do the job or not, based on their personal situation.

:thumbup: As an example - I'm married and spent a month working in China last year. Being married had no influence (and nor should it) on whether I was offered that assignment.

QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 02:35 PM)

How would you feel about the following question: 'Do you have a driver's license?'

That depends - does the job require me to drive a car? If so, then I think that's a valid question. It's like asking if I have any NI certifications if the job requires that I know LabVIEW.

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QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 11:35 AM)

We go Off-Topic major, but an job-ad that says:

  • Dynamic time hours
  • Travels a lot

For me I can't do such jobs anymore, my wife is working nights and finding a kindergarten that is open at evenings is not something I like to do. Now let's go back on topic, questions about your home situation can be appropriate.

How would you feel about the following question:

'Do you have a driver's license?'

Ton

Ton is partly right that those questions can affect how well one performs a job. You could argue that people with children are less likely to work overtime, but then people without spouse or children are more likely to switch jobs or move to a different city for personal reasons. At any rate, it's almost moot. In the USA it is just not ok to ask about marital status or even citizenship during the hiring process. (If US Citizenship is required, you can ask yes/no whether they are eligible). All you can do is state what level of effort and/or travel the position will require. If you can still ask more personal questions in Europe, then fine, but this limitation has not yet caused the collapse of the US economy (I prefer to blame that on our elected officials).

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QUOTE (LV_FPGA_SE @ Aug 19 2008, 01:33 PM)

You are correct, but if this is the case then you should ask the candidate what they can or cannot do, not if they are married or not. You can not assume that just because they are married they can't travel overseas for two weeks.

And vice versa. You might wind up hiring a single person that can't travel easily because she cares for her elderly mother or something.

QUOTE (crelf)

Innappropriate, and (at least in the USA) I think asking marital status is illegal.

That was my understanding, too. I've just been on a few interviews lately and it's been asked in just about every one.

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QUOTE (jdunham @ Aug 19 2008, 12:19 PM)

this limitation has not yet caused the collapse of the US economy (I prefer to blame that on our elected officials).

Careful - This could send us off on a whole different tangent :)

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QUOTE (eaolson @ Aug 19 2008, 03:19 PM)

The correct answer: "Are you making me an offer? eyebrows.gif "

QUOTE (TobyD @ Aug 19 2008, 03:42 PM)

QUOTE (jdunham @ Aug 19 2008, 03:19 PM)
...this limitation has not yet caused the collapse of the US economy (I prefer to blame that on our elected officials).

Careful - This could send us off on a whole different tangent
:)

I'm not sure what the standard off-topic of off-topic of off-topic... level of recursion is permitted in standard etiquette, but I'd suggest that we've probably exceeded it :D

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QUOTE (Ton @ Aug 19 2008, 02:11 PM)

Hijack succeeded.

In the Netherlands it's quite normal to have you marital status on your resume (including children).

The question I got was 'If I call your wife what will she tell about you'.

This are items that are relevant to a job. For instance I got the question today if I could enter a support team for our company. This includes traveling to other countries for two weeks, heavy night work. Someone that is married and has children is not very suitable for such a job.

It are question regarding your fitness for such jobs.

Ton

You would have to ask the question more directly here in the US. Something like "This job requires extensive travel and heavy night work. Is that a problem for you?". Just don't mention marriage and family. When I was interviewing in college I knew women who were engaged that would remove their engagement rings for interviews to avoid signaling their status to the interviewer.

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For any inappropriate questions one might want to ask, you can get the answers without asking. All you really need is check out Google, Facebook or MySpace. :P

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QUOTE (crelf @ Aug 19 2008, 01:18 PM)

I'm not sure what the standard off-topic of off-topic of off-topic... level of recursion is permitted in standard etiquette, but I'd suggest that we've probably exceeded it :D

I know this is off topic, but I think you're right ;)

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QUOTE (normandinf @ Aug 19 2008, 03:27 PM)

For any inappropriate questions one might want to ask, you can get the answers without asking. All you really need is check out Google, Facebook or MySpace. :P

I happen to have a fairly common first name / last name combination. Common enough that, when I went to college, I wound up sharing a mailbox with someone with the exact same first and last name because no one else could tell our mail apart. A few months ago I Googled myself just to see what would happen. I came across some postings by someone with the same user name as me in a couple of corners of USENET that are, shall we say, less than entirely family-friendly. I'm a bit worried that's going to cause a problem for me someday.

Anyway, the original topic of this thread is around here somewhere...

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QUOTE (Antoine Châlons @ Aug 19 2008, 10:47 PM)

.......in some countries the best universities are almost free.

:o WTF!

Where do I sign up....??

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QUOTE (jgcode @ Aug 19 2008, 08:07 PM)

Where do I sign up....??

About 25 years ago :)

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I think you have all inspired me to come up with a new interview question:

"Can you carry on an online conversation and stay on topic for more that 3 posts?" ;)

I guess I should just give into the thread hijackers demands and move on...

Thanks for the on-topic posts. I actually put some of them to use today. Unfortunatly, the person I interviewed ended up having only 3 weeks of LV exp and the code example they brought was a perfect example of what not to do. I politly suggested they invest in a copy of the "LabVIEW Style Guide" and left it at that.

My favorite response was to the question "what is one of your favorite features of LabVIEW?". They said the 'film strip-looking box'... My co-worker almost cracked up when he said this, since I have banned the use of sequence structures in our company's LV code.

Now back to the latest tangent...

-John

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QUOTE (jlokanis @ Aug 20 2008, 09:02 AM)

I think you have all inspired me to come up with a new interview question:

"Can you carry on an online conversation and stay on topic for more that 3 posts?" ;)

I guess I should just give into the thread hijackers demands and move on...

Thanks for the on-topic posts. I actually put some of them to use today. Unfortunatly, the person I interviewed ended up having only 3 weeks of LV exp and the code example they brought was a perfect example of what not to do. I politly suggested they invest in a copy of the "LabVIEW Style Guide" and left it at that.

My favorite response was to the question "what is one of your favorite features of LabVIEW?". They said the 'film strip-looking box'... My co-worker almost cracked up when he said this, since I have banned the use of sequence structures in our company's LV code.

Now back to the latest tangent...

-John

I know it has nothing to do with the subject, but may I ask why did you ban sequence-structures? And since you have banned them how can them be avoided? (any article if possible)

(I am asking since I sometimes use them in my code when I find no other solution.)

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Back on topic: one question I like is to make a diagram (I have a standard one), remove all of the comments and most of the labels, and ask the interviewee to figure out what it does. More specifically, they have to choose good labels and write appropriate comments.

This tells me whether he/she can read diagrams, figure stuff out, choose sensible variable names and write clear comments. At the same time it's a lot faster than writing code from scratch.

It's really a different skill set than writing, so it can't replace coding samples and other tests, but it's helpful to see how the person thinks and how they will dive into our existing codebase.

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