*I've been an (very) amateur linux enthusiast since 1999 and a profesional linux admin for 5+ years*
**Hi Redditors and Hacker News people, I got a huge amount of comments on specifics about the interview, like what the questions were, etc, I have since written that information here http://bsdpunk.blogspot.com/2011/03/questions-and-aftermath.html . **
So what do you do, when you've been bested? When you have been so wholly destroyed in an interview, it shakes you to your core. When you get about thirty percent of the questions right, and you can't blame anyone but yourself. It was a face to face interview, and when the interviewer saw you struggle, and you were on the right track he helped, in the capacity he could without giving you an answer.
A two hour face to face interview with only technical questions. No way to ease out of this one, no excuse. "The multiple choices was obscure", "The wording was wrong", "When would I ever need to know that." All those justifications were thrown out the window. It was no use to hold on my pride.
I had my skin ripped off me. I thought I was somebody, I thought I new Linux like the back of my hand. But more importantly I recognized, for the first time in the long time, that I knew very little. I'd like to blame the product of my environment. That for the past 6 or so months, I've had no coworkers, or friends in the field, to truly talk to, or compare notes. Only the occasionally tweet exchange with strangers. Or that I've been working in a windows environment for about the same amount of time. But this isn't the fault, this isn't why, it was my arrogance.
I've always done well in interviews, all types of interviews, but when it comes to tech interviews, they've always been like candy from a baby. Not this one. So I am going to lay some things down for you.
What did I do wrong? To start with, which is only the beginning. I didn't review the basics, you know stuff you learned in school, or just dicking around with Linux. So simple questions about the kernel boot process, stuff I hadn't though about in a while, because I was used to just booting machines in the cloud and setting them up with automated scripts I wrote, hadn't thought about the boot process in a while. Stuff like runlevels and signals, I know what they are, I know how to Google them, but I don't have exact memories, I know kill -9 is force and normal kill and ctrl-d are ask the program to quit....can I explain it more technical than that, apparently not.
I missed questions I knew but forgot the answers to, like the difference between asymmetric and symmetric encryption. I just forgot the terminology, cause I didn't even glance at a book; I had this thing in the bag I thought. If he would have asked me to describe PKI, I would have pwned that question like Charlie Miller, chowns a mac. But he didn't, I was lost.
I missed questions I didn't know the answers to, and had thought were irrelevant....until he explained the answers to me.
I even asked him to ask me questions on things I thought I knew, like rsync, and was humiliated worse than Ben Stiller in any of his movies. After being grilled on why I would use the v, I knew it was over.
After all this frustration, I had the audacity to get in an argument about UDP which I hadn't fully thought out, and of course my argument was crushed, and ultimately wrong to begin with. (I assure you at this point I had already crashed and burned so hard this was not a deciding factor in me being hired).
Did I go in with the wrong attitude? No, I don't think so. I just wasn't technically skilled enough for the position, I had a belief that, I can survive in any position as long as I'm given enough lee way for a couple of weeks so that didn't scare me off.
I'm going to say 99% of the failure of this interview was my fault, I wasn't skilled enough, and I didn't prepare, as I should. I would like to fault someone else for the other 1%, a recruiter who buffed my resume without my knowledge, sending me in the dragons den with embellished, if not downright false information, with my resume.... rewritten to serve his needs.
I'll follow this up with how I am going to remedy my skillset/interview/recruiter policy in the next few days.
EDIT: Ctrl-D is actually end of file, thanks to the peeps at hacker news. Please keep reporting inaccuracies and I will fix them as they are found.