Re: Technical Test

Subject: Re: Technical Test
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 12:36:47 -0800 (PST)

"Ehr, Meg" wrote...

> I'm curious: do you allow access to any supplemental materials? I could
> probably answer all of those questions if I had some basic reference info at
> my disposal (as it is, I'm thinking I *should* know the answer to about
> three or four off the top of my head). It may not be what you're testing
> for, but providing basic materials might allow you to assess the
> individual's ability to find the answer.

No, but naming off a few places you would locate such information would be a
good answer. Like I said, its a test of character as much as one of technology.
How people handle pressure and feeling dumb says a lot about a person. It
isn't intended to humiliate people, but analyze their ability to handle honest
intellectual stress.

Basically, I see the following responses:

Humiliation. The person feels dumb and clams up. This is a common response.

Babble their way out. The person tries to talk the issue out. I consider this
a good sign. It shows the person is grasping for ideas and will probably be
able to wiggle through complex problems.

Reason their way out. Perhaps the best response you can give (in my opinion).
Make a guess and then try to support that guess. It shows respect for the
scientific method and its value.

Anger: Bad news, no job for you. Shows the person cannot handle being out of
control and probably has a significantly inflated sense of self worth.

Escalating Frustration. A typical response, but not a good one. Shows a slow
mind. People who get frustrated and don't put that frustration to work usually
become resentful and bitter. Frustration usually leads to blame. The person
will blame me or somebody else for their stupidity. This is almost worse than

Correct Answer: Good, but actually says the least about a person. A straight
correct answer means the person has the knowledge, but might not have the
skill. That usually illicits a trick question - like "what is the difference
between packet switching and packet routing." (There is no significant

I am sure there are other "categories" of responses, but those responses are
the first that pop into my mind.

So how would you respond? Anger, frustration, reason?

You'd be surprised. Its easy to say "oh, I'd reason it out." But when you're
under the gun, people respond to their true nature. If your a person who angers
when you feel dumb, its hard to re-engineer that response. Scientists and
doctors are taught in grad school that you have to remove yourself from the
equation and confront everything as a problem. The key to that is to remember
that there is ALWAYS a solution - you just don't know it, yet. If your patient
and let your reasoning abilities work on the problem, 9 times out of 10, you'll
solve it, or get very close to a solution.

Andrew Plato

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