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We’ve all been there: no job, no prospects, nothing but lots of time to eat Cheetos in our underwear while we play video games.  (Not Cheetos that have been stored in our underwear.  That’s disgusting.)  We’ve all felt the excitement of getting a job interview only to be verbally and emotionally abused by the IT manager as they “test” your ability to perform the duties of the job they are hiring for.

A few years ago, I was in this situation.  I was interviewing for an IT support position with a chain of time share resorts.  It was a group interview with the president of the company, the head of human resources, and the IT manager.  As was expected, I was asked a series of questions regarding how I would handle a certain situation.  I would give my answer and immediately the IT manager would tell me that I was wrong and that I needed to try again.  Eventually I would run out of ideas and then they would tell me the correct answer.  Probably 90% of the time, the correct response was my first response.  As you might imagine, after 20 minutes, I was pretty irritated by this.  When the time came for me to do actual hands-on “testing”, I got up and walked out.  How was I to know what these people were looking for in an employee when the correct answer was always wrong? No, I didn’t get the job.

This morning I came across this article over on Slashdot.  The author is basically asking why IT professionals are tested during the interview process when other professions aren’t.

My wife works as a nurse.  I know that she didn’t have to take a test to prove that she is a good nurse; it was just assumed based on her credentials.  I have multiple certifications and a university degree in IT.  Why is it that when I go for an interview, I have to prove that I know what I’m doing?  Shouldn’t my credentials or work history be sufficient?  It’s not like I have people’s lives in my hands like nurses or doctors do.

I have a theory about this that I want to run by you.  Employers know that IT geeks can take them down.  The testing is just a way of seeing what kind of control a company can exert over its IT staff before it’s “too much.”  If the geek balks at the testing because it’s an obvious waste of time, the employer won’t hire them because they could pose future “problems”.  What do you think?  Am I completely wrong?

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About The Author

Co-founder/show host/producer of Stolendroids. If you’ve listened to our shows, you know that I’m a geek. Anyone who says differently doesn’t know me very well. If it has anything to do with computers, video games, toys, comic books, or sci-fi, you can count me in. Also, I aim to misbehave.

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  • I hope I don’t embarrass you and TardisCaptain, but I used to be your boss.  And as your boss, and as the guy who would have to interview new applicants, those tests were very important.

    In our area, the amount of “basement trained” IT workers is so high that you NEED to have test like that for entry level positions.  I can’t tell you how often I’d have to turn away people who claimed to have three certifications, 10 years of experience, and a degree because they simply didn’t have the skills.  I believe that if you are applying for an entry level position, then yes, you should be tested for it.  Let’s face it, most IT programs are a laugh (I passed my A+ and two MCP’s without even trying)
    On the flip side, it usually helps if the person giving the interview knows what they’re talking about too.  I once failed an interview because I knew more than the interviewer:
    “Open the system properties.” “I hit win+pause/break” “INCORRECT! You goto Start>right click My Computer, and goto Properties.  Open Help.” “I hit F1.” “Wrong again!”
  • zohner

    You bring up some great points, Zuke.  However, despite some of this testing, we still ended up with people like Brian the South African dancer that didn’t know what a ping was.  You are right about the basement trained fools out there that think that just because the can program a macro in WoW, they are a software developer.  I would think though that a real college degree would be acceptable in lieu of testing.

  • Yeah, well we know why Brian was hired.

    To be honest, most the people I turned away WERE college educated applicants.  I have a real sour taste in my mouth when it comes to Computer Science degrees and the IT world.  Of course, I am biased since I only have ever interviewed for IT positions.  Software programming, developing, and project management are completely different and their resumes should be handled differently.
    It really all depends on the position.  When I was 17, I applied at Inkley’s Camera Store.  In the application there was a short quiz:
    Define “SLR”:
    Add 5.75 + 2.63
    I kid you not.  I will bet money that if I was applying for the head of the company I wouldn’t be given such an application; my resume would have been judged on it’s own and then an interview.