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Q&As

Here we've documented questions we either see frequently on Discord, Reddit, Hacker News, etc., or we believe are good questions we can provide a solid answer to.

The Questions

Is a four hour interview process normal?

I think it depends on a few factors but I do hear (horror) stories about people going through 4-8 hour code challenges and other ridiculous hoops to get a job. Personally I've never experienced anything like four hours of technical interviewing. Ever. At most I've only ever gone through an hour of technical questions and in some cases that's over very quickly.

It could be, though, that I have a very public facing profile and close to ten years experience. That's why I say, it depends on a few factors.

I guess you could ask: should a company be doing four hours of technical interviews? I don't think a four hour (technical) interview can help an organisation select a candidate anymore than a 30 minute one can. It really doesn't take many questions to gauge a candidate's capabilities...

These questions aren't perfect or applicable to everyone and everything, but here are some samples based on the position.

For a junior engineer I would be asking questions along this line:

  • "What is Cloud Compute and Object Storage?"
  • "How would you run a Docker container using a specific image?"
  • "What is a load balancer and how does it work?"
  • "What is IAC and CAC?"

For a more experience engineer, I think example questions like this would shine a light on their experience:

  • "What a process? How is it different to the thread?"
  • "How would you back up an EBS Volume?"
  • "How would you use a Lambda to automatically shutdown EC2 Instances after a certain time frame?"
  • "How would you create an IAC CI pipeline to include linting and static analysis?"

And a senior engineer shouldn't have an issue with the following:

  • "How does a Transit Gateway work and how do you implement it?"
  • "At a high level how would you integrate Azure AD into AWS for SSO?"
  • "How would you create an IAM User and enforce mandatory 2MFA on logins?"

And so on. Ideally you'd deep dive into these questions based on the answers given, but the point is: it doesn't take long to get an idea of someone's experience.

All you do is use a score card and a systematised approach and you've got a system for measuring capability.

And actually as I've said in the past: companies should be hiring more based on personality, ability to learn, team work and communication skills, not pure technical skills.

My final word on this would be: is it reasonable for them to ask for four hours of your time, unpaid, only for you to not get the job?

Should I write a technical blog? Will it help with getting a job?

The simple answer is yes. You should write a technical blog for many reasons. A technical blog will also help you develop a solid reputation in the industry and also in your local market. However conditions apply to this theory.

Whether you're solving technical problems or studying something new, writing a technical blog is an excellent way of reinforcing your learning. It gives you a chance to double check your understanding by sharing it with other people. If you can explain what you've learned or how you've solved a problem to other people then you truly do understand the subject at hand.

Another benefit to writing a technical blog is it acts as a portfolio piece you can share with other people. These can be employers or your peers. Either or, it's a piece of work that you've taken the time to produce that demonstrates your ability to grasp new concepts, solve complex problems, and then share the ideas and solutions with the world.

When you do share it with others, and you should, it demonstrates you can learn and grow as a person, and it further demonstrates you can communicate ideas to other people, which is a skill not many people have. Communication is a key concept in DevOps so if you can show that you're able to communicate ideas clearly then employers will want to work with you.

After you've set up and written a blog you should include a link to it in all your social profiles - especially those employers will see such as LinkedIn. You should also mention that you have a blog on your CV to further get an employers attention and allow them to see what you're capable off well before going into an interview.

Personally I have stepped through interview processes in less than an hour and received job offers afterwards. In most cases I'm told that my online educational resources have been reviewed by those in the interview and they found them to clearly indicate that I'm very capable of getting the job (they're offering) done.

So yes, write a technical blog and share your solutions and findings with the world. It will help you get a job, but only provided you make people aware that the blog exists.


Last update: September 14, 2021