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Worst — and best — IT interview questions

Stephanie Wilkinson | July 10, 2013
Why are manhole covers round? Why do you ask? Tech managers weigh in on the practice of using brainteasers to screen IT candidates and share their own favorite interview questions.

Wanted: Work-hard, play-hard atmosphere
Aundrea Marchionna has been in the IT business — and on both sides of the interview desk — since 1989 in a variety of programming and development positions. Her most recent job interview as a candidate took place last fall, when she applied for the job she holds now as a technical architect at MRM Worldwide, a digital and direct marketing agency.

The way the interview was conducted ... you could tell there was a good dynamic between the business and tech people. Aundrea Marchionna, technical architect, MRM Worldwide

For Marchionna, the best questions are straightforward and predictable: "How do you explain a technical process to nontechnical colleagues?" "How do you break down a large idea into manageable pieces?"

The worst interview Marchionna has had in her career was one, not too many years ago, in which the interviewer didn't so much try to stump her with tricky questions as mislead her about the company she'd be working for. "Basically, he lied about the environment there and what the job would entail," Marchionna says. "I wasn't with them very long."

The best interview, by contrast, took place on Halloween, at the company where she now works. It began with the human resources person meeting her at the door dressed as a penguin. "You could tell this was a work-hard, play-hard kind of place," she says. "But beyond that, the way the interview was conducted, in a group, gave me a sense that this was a team-oriented place. You could tell there was a good dynamic between the business and tech people."

In the end, the number of cows in Canada notwithstanding, "that's what we all really want," Marchionna says.

 

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