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Mr. Muskrat (4572)

Mr. Muskrat
  reversethis-{moc ... ta} {tarksum.rm}

I'm married with 2 girls. I work as a full time Perl programmer for a Land Mobile Radio company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

I am enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online working towards a Bachelor of Science in photography.

My other blog []

Journal of Mr. Muskrat (4572)

Wednesday August 13, 2008
03:08 PM

Tips For Job Applicants

[ #37174 ]

We are also in the process of finding and hiring a few people. Here are some of the tips that come to mind for potential applicants (and I am sure that I am forgetting some).

When filling out our pre-screening questions:

  1. If you do not know the answer, resist the urge to post the perldoc listing verbatim.
  2. When answering the questions concerning the code snippets and you do not know the answer, feel free to run it before you take that guess.
  3. When you include source code as a part of an answer, ensure that it compiles and runs.

When doing a phone screening or in-house interview:

  1. It is perfectly acceptable to be nervous. We have been in your shoes and know how it feels.
  2. Be prepared to talk about anything that you list on your resume (duties, responsibilies, applications, systems, operating systems, known languages, technologies, etc).
  3. If you do not know the answer to a question then say so. Trying to make something up on the spot, while amusing for us, does not give you bonus points.

When doing a phone screening:

  1. Do not schedule the phone screening for a time when you will be in the office at your current job.
  2. If you get flustered, then let us know you need a moment to collect yourself. You do not need to terminate the interviewing process altogether. (Hanging up on us only leaves us wondering what happened.)
  3. If you need to reschedule once we have started the call then we will reschedule it.
  4. Pause from time to time to give us a chance to talk to you.

When doing an in-house interview:

  1. You will get points deducted for wearing jeans and t-shirt instead of business casual attire.
  2. When addressing someone, make eye contact.
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  • See also my article How to say "I don't know" effectively [].


  • Remember that it isn't just about the candidate convincing you, you need to convince the candidates. Particularly so for the best candidates.

    For instance I deduct points from an organization that asks me to wear business casual (or even worse a suit) when I do not need to talk with clients. Think of it as a negotiating point. At some point I'm being offered enough money for my needs, so I'm going to look at non-monetary benefits like work atmosphere.

    • We attempt to convince potential contractors and employees to come on board by pointing out the perks. Here is a handful off the top of my head.

      • We have a great track record of converting contractors to full time employees.
      • We're very flexible on when you start work (one guy starts at 7:30 or 8, some of us are in by 9, some are in by 10).
      • We have days when we can telecommute.
      • Our "official" dress code is business casual but jeans have been pretty common for the past year or so.
      • Periodically the Engineering depa
      • My current job is similar, but more extreme.

        Meaning there is wider variation on when we get in and we don't have an official dress code at all.

        Anyways it may help that I live in California. I knew expectations differed, so when I moved out here I ssked my interviewer whether I should wear a suit when I showed up. His response was, "You are free to wear a suit, and we are free to laugh at you."

  • At the start of each interview I do I always tell the candidates that we are going to explore their technical knowledge, and that we will go and try find their boundaries. That nobody can know everything and that the interviewers don't either.

    The idea is that you as the interviewee are led by the interviewer to the edge of your knowledge. We want to observe how they degrade. The ideal candidate admits to not knowing something, but when pushed will reason themselves to the correct answer. An educated guess