Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Yahoo! er... amazon!

I got a call Friday, I think (not sure) asking me if I could do a phone interview with a guy at
Had to think back to why they would have my name... and finally figured out that it was due to a resume' and application I submitted back in September of 2004. I'd been told of it as an Urgent Need.

Anyway, here it is April... the first interview was pretty good. Hard, in places, with a few questions about how to do load balancing, server scaling, and such... some technical questions, some background questions.

The usual 'What did you do for four years?!' thing... I explained the degree to which Portland was hit by the dot-bomb and the sudden, year-long vanishing of all job prospects after the 9/11 attack, and left out the part about rubyloot being sick, as it seems to be a bit off-putting to some people. Explained doing part-time contract work in order to keep things alive.

I got a good deal of info about the group that the interviewer was in - e-cards, customer special records, etc. The group had (by coincidence and attrition) dropped down too far, and they didn't have time to do the work for holiday releases and maintenance and still interview to hire people.

Anyway, it took the entire hour.

He told me that they do at least two phone interviews, then if both interviews go well, they invite the candidate to an in-person series of interviews (usually one day, but sometimes they'll do a call-back) and then about one in five get offers, and of those, only half accept.

The second phone interview was yesterday, and the technical side included some coding questions (how would I do a particular kind of search, with a kink thrown into it)... a different group, this one does database aggregation and reporting, the approach was one of 'where do you want to go in the next few years', and the whole feel of this guys group seemed more back-endish. The first group did most of their work in Java, the second group, in C++ and Perl, and I got to answer questions about both.

Anyway, apparently they found me sufficiently interesting to invite to an in-person. They're paying for hotel if necessary, and travel. I'll have to 'adjust' my work schedule again, but it's worth it.

So far, setting expectation level at 'hey, the chance to interview will be nice'.

Added 25 Apr 05:

Well, they sent me the response last Thursday and I got it Friday morning sometime.
I didn't get the one I interviewed for. The particular HR guy will keep me in mind for other spots in the group that might be a better fit, and I may also still hear from other people in the company about other positions.

The spot I interviewed for was one of the positions in a group that extracts data from the mass of records on customer transactions and reports it back to the customers who are currently Amazon's clients, using the Amazon framework to offer their own products and items.

The interviews were fair, and I think I did OK, for having to dig through my memory of school almost 30 years ago to dredge up the details on complexity of algorithms... Order N^2, n Log n, etc. That was a pain, and pragmatically I could tell them when I was using a quick, dirty, slow approach and when I was using a theoretically faster approach, but I didn't go into the level of saying "If we time this particular Perl function on a set of systems, we realize that it would be faster to do a standard 'quicksort/insert' algorithm rather than using the builtin hash, but the hash is algorithmically better at order n * k^2/2."
I also had to dredge up geometry from my freshman year of high school to answer some of their test questions, and that was a bit slow.

I suppose there are 'interview crib sheet' books, similar to the 'SAT crib sheet' books, and I could maybe have gotten one or two of those and read them.

They put me up at the W hotel. That was amusing. The W is the most pretentious hotel in Seattle. They don't believe in the unnecessary use of lighting. They also want to keep handicapped people out of sight, apparently, as from the main entrance, you must climb a flight of stairs to reach the desk to check in, and the elevators to reach the 'lobby' are hidden far from the main entrance. Disgusting and they should be ashamed.

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