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employment exams

 
Greenhorn
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I've noticed that even after passing Sun and IBM exams that I'm still asked to take technical exams before interviews. Some have asked me to take 1.1 Java too. Is this a common practice? Do the Sun and IBM certifications have less weight than BrainBench for some reason?
 
Bartender
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Willie,
Are you talking about recruiters or about actual companies? Alot of recruiters will ask you to take exams because that is the way their recruiting company is set up... they require every candidate, no matter how qualified, to take a specific exam so they can compare that specific exam score to other applicants. Some companies may require you take a test for this reason also... Personally, I feel like this is a waste of time, but passing the BrainBench test is a lot easier than the Java certification test, so if you are a SCJP then BrainBench should be a breeze.
As an aside, when I was job hunting for my current position I took the BrainBench exam on Java twice on one day (two different companies)... I got a call from one company to take it, got the results from them, then that afternoon got a call from another company to take it... I told them I had just taken it earlier that day, what score I got, and was told I just had to take it again... that it was a requirement for any candidate for the position...
Basically, SCJP or IBM certification will get you a job, better salary, etc. (hopefully) whereas BrainBench is more of a formality for Recruiters and HR departments. (i.e. They don't know enough Java to tell if you really know what you are talking about, but they know if your test score is in a certain range you aren't lying to them about your skills...)
 
willie blue
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I was talking about recruiters on this one but I've noticed that there is much grilling about work history that is non-technical. Is this common or am I just talking to the wrong people. I feel like I'm on trial for some crime.
 
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Willie:
- Like Nathan said, some recruiters will make you take on-line exams. I guess it's because they deal in so many specialties that they need some standard way of verifying a candidates story.
I had to do this for the Maxim Group - the test started in standard Java but then went into detail regarding the Java Multimedia classes for some unknown reason. The recruiter at Maxim Group said I did ok. So who knows.
- Companies do technical interviews - both over the phone and on-site. And this is a lot of give and take. I like to turn it into more of a discussion than an interrogation. Because let's face it, you aren't going to know everything. So you try to shine on the parts you know and hopefully pry information from the interviewer on the parts you don't know. In other words, try to turn a negative into a positive.
- Also, do not be offended if the company asks you to fill out a "Burger King" type application form. Fill it out completely, and stick your resumeand references inside. Good reason to have a few paperclips handy. They do this for legal reasons, as it lets them legally contact former employers and references.
It bothered me the first one or two times I had to do this - until someone mentioned it was for legal reasons (read the last paragraph on the application giving the company permission to contact employers/references).
---------
Gotta run,
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
John Coxey
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Willie:
- Regarding non-technical employement questions. This is an absolutely necessary part of the interview process. They are testing your people skills. And they come up at EVERY SINGLE interview I have ever done. This is what I call Part 1 of the
interview.
- How do you prepare for such questions. Read some of the interview books (I mentioned some on other threads in this forum). You should have 3 or 4 good stories to illustrate your strong points.
The beauty of the stories - is that you can modify them to tailor the interviewer's particular question. And if the stories relate to past computer experience, all the better.
Such questions: tell me about a job you liked, tell me about a job you did not like. How did you deal with difficult co-workers, or a difficult boss or customer. How do you manage/juggle multiple projects with the same due date. Give me an example of a project that totally failed - what would you do different - what did you do to cause the project to fail/succeed.
The above questions can either be your death sentence or your saving grace. Having a story that you can mold into these above situations will help you. Example: Given the question - "Give me an example of a project that totally failed?" You can stick your foot in your mouth and blame it on bad management or bad people - and guess what - that's what 9 out of 10 candidates would say.
In order to shine - blame the failure on your self - say you lacked a certain skill - but you still pursued the project as best you could - you knew the project would be difficult - but would also be a great learning experience. Followup with saying what you learned doing the project and how you now learned said skill and give an example of a successful follow up project.
It is perfectly legal to ask to "skip" a question and come back to it later. SOmetimes your mind just totally goes blank. It's not a great tactic - but at least you are still in the game. And after all - that's all this interview process is - it's a game.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
It's now 2:15PM - and I really gotta get back to work.
Latre.
[This message has been edited by John Coxey (edited February 13, 2001).]
 
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I too was asked (by a consulting firm's recruiter) to take on-line exam before the interview. A job offer followed. Nonetheless, the same thoughts (as Willie's) came to my mind: the questions in Sun's certification exam better measure a candidate's knowledge of Java2. Why employers distrust SCJP2 and think that their own on-line exam is a superior yardstick? What is the point for us working that hard to get SCJP2 if there is no credibility in SCJP2 to employers?
 
willie blue
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Now they want body fluids, fingerprints, and permission to run a credit check. This is for an entry level position that I was going to do short term. I'm not applying for a loan and this is not the CIA or Pentagon either. Should I enroll in truck driving school? I've passed SCJP2, IBM WebSphere,all the BrainBench Java exams and I'm still asked to do all this.
 
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JiaPei Jen wrote:


Why employers distrust SCJP2 and think that their own on-line exam is a superior yardstick? What is the point for us working that hard to get SCJP2 if there is no credibility in SCJP2 to employers?


See my many emails to this forum on this topic (search for my name and "certification"). I do a lot of hiring. SCJP certification only tells me that you're familiar with the langage, and how it works; that you didn't pick up a book last week and write Java on your resume today. It does not tell me if you know how to code.* During the interview I start with basic questions, and then tailor which questions to ask, and how to vary them, based on previous responses. I have not found SCJP certification to have any correlation with the people I hire. I have found good answers to my questions do correlate highly. (Of course, I'm also obviously biased towards my questions :-)
As for why you would work hard to pass the test if we don't use it, I have no idea. Who told you to do it? Sun? They want you to take the test for their own marketing purposes. Did any companies (or even recruiters) say they wanted you to take it? If the recruiter told you to, ask each company to which they send you if it matters. I'd be interested in the responses.

Willie Blue wrote:


Now they want body fluids, fingerprints, and permission to run a credit check.


In fairness to companies, some of this comes from insurance carriers and lawyers. This culture does work in your favor sometimes. Most contracts say the company can fire you at any time, without cause. I don't know of a single comapny that would dare do this. Most will spend 2 months creating a paper trail and giving you "warnings" before they would even think of firing you. (Interestingly, I think there are many fewer precautions taken with layoffs. I wonder if companies ever layoff employees "one at a time" so to speak :-)

*I would relate the SCJP to the Chinese Room AI test in this way, especially with all the prep books. In fairness, you could say the same thing about the SAT and other standardized tests :-)

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
[This message has been edited by Mark Herschberg (edited February 14, 2001).]
 
willie blue
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I guess I don't understand what a credit report has to do with skills. As far as the drug screen, it seems as if they approve of some drugs since I've been taken out for drinks after an interview. There must be some company that is more interested in talent rather than my personal life and I'd rather try and find one of those. I was told by some companies that they did require Sun/IBM certifications to work there. That's why I went and passed them. I guess it just depends on which company you apply to.
 
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Willie,
The practice of a credit report is to determine if a candidate is on a solid financial footing. Now anyone familiar with credit reporting agencies and how data is stored, tracked and reported knows this is a crock - but companies still do it. Some on the notion that is someone is in debt, then maybe that person is more likely to have outside problems that may interfere with the working environment.
As to tests, it gives the company a way to have another tool to not hire a candidate. "non only did I not like your interview questions, but you did not do well on the TEST". Interestingly, most of the independent studies show that testing has no relation to future success or failure except on being able to determine how the candidate will perform on standardized tests.
The company I currently has a very strict substance abuse policy with annual testing (this is a requirement for our industry). So failing this test is also a way to "weed out".
These things are in place because no one knows how a candiate will work out and they are just trying to have some sort of objective way of evaluation. Some see this as prying into private lives while others see this as being responsibile to the organization.
 
willie blue
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I think I should just be more selective about where I choose to work. I got into computers as a hobby and it was fun just like playing my guitar. I worked my way up on the systems side and got up to some very high paying gigs. I have made a transition into software with the intention of creating my own company within the next year or so. In the meantime, I thought I'd go out and do some software projects other than my own and I've been running into all this snooping by potential employers. It has been somewhat shocking since I just thought there would be more attention paid to technical skills.
 
Steve Fahlbusch
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Willie,
Say in about a year you have your company and you want to hire some employees, how will you go about it?
Will you base your decisions that might effect the viability of your company soley on technical ability of the applicant?
 
John Coxey
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Willie:
Take the damned drug test and get on with life. You are making a big deal out of nothing. Either you want the job or you don't. It's that simple.
I owe $20K in school loans (on a MasterCard/Visa), I don't do drugs, and I've taken those rediculous BrainBench tests. No one has ever used any of the above as an excuse for not hiring.
Your job, as I have stressed in my past posts, is to kick some serious butt during the interview process. I am totally convinced that if you do well on the interview, you will usually get an offer.
-------
Regarding trucking (I spent 5 yrs in the industry) - you gotta take a piss test when you hire on - when the company feels like it - when you have an accident - and every year when the company gets around to it. If you are unconsious, by law they can do a blood test.
You cannot have ANY alcohol in the cab - even if it's sealed. You can loose EVERYTHING (they can take your truck) - if your blood-alcohol is over 0.04 - most states are at 0.10 for DUI. One DUI and your out for 3 years (even if it's while driving your own passenger car). Second DUI and you're out for life - period.
These DUI laws are tough - but necessary.
Several states wanted to legalize roadside drug tests - but the US Supreme Court threw that one out the door. How is the old lady supposed to pee in a jar along side the road with smokie watching her?
But, they can run dogs through your cab - and sleeping bunk - and they can pull out all of your belongings and search through them.
Had this happen once, I stepped on the fire extinguisher one night and set it off in the cab - when I did this I fell into the windshield and cracked it. So the next day, cop saw a foot long crack in windshield and of course the mess/powder all over the cab from the fire extinguisher. I of course, looked like crap. So they called in the drug unit, the dogs, etc., and I spent an hour going through their little game. All they did was give me a warning - told me to get new fire extinguisher and windshield.
So quit your whinning - pee in the bottle -and get on with with life.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)

[This message has been edited by John Coxey (edited February 15, 2001).]
 
Ranch Hand
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I landed the first job of my life ..... by getting inspired from this post.. I am including the link to this page from my website too. ( I think it is not illegal ... Sheriffs )

Thanks everyone here ..
in the order of posts made...
Willie Blue
Nathan Pruett
John Coxey ****
Jiapei jen
Mark Herschberg
Steve Fahlbusch

the whole interview was a piece of cake. ..as I had a lot of experience on the latest things happening courtesy Ranch and through News groups on C and C++ and also through jobs2u@yahoogroups
they asked a lot of Quesitons on C and C++ aptitute and else also.. I was apprehensive that I might have to wrok in C or C++ language .. but I came to know that they are people who are ampong hte first to use new Technologies...
Perhaps I get JAva or C#...


can watch my posts here too http://www.javaranch.com/ubb/Forum37/HTML/000292.html

Thanks once again..........
Sunil
thank you ... thank you..... thank you...thank you... thank you ... thank you..... thank

[This message has been edited by sunil choudhary (edited February 17, 2001).]
 
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hi, sunil,
congratulation on your first job. Could you let me know the link of the C/C++ newsgroup?
Thanx
 
sunil choudhary
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Hi Simon
Thanks first of all and then the groups I used are
comp.lang.c++
and
comp.lang.c
I came to know that deja has been acquired by Google
and hence there might be some trouble loggin in as I was wasing Deja initialy and google is today is in a beta phase.
contact me at my mail Id if cant resolve tha problem....
first do this go to www.deja.com
Type "group:name-of-group" in the search box
so it is group:comp.lang.c++ and then press search
Hope this helps
Sunil
[This message has been edited by sunil choudhary (edited February 18, 2001).]
 
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John Coxey you crack me up!
Question: I'm planning on taking my SCJP in June/July maybe earlier...other than that I don't have much experience programming. If I'm persistant enough and know enough Java can I get a job without having much college experience or other programming exp? I'm asking because I really don't want to go into debt and feel that college is a waste of my time. I'm thinking I'll go for it anyway and if it doesn't work out then I'll go to college. Basically I'll pee in the bottle and get on with life.
Joe
 
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Attending a real University is never a waste of time. Except for those who waste time in a real University. A four year University degree says something about you: That you can commit for a project and stick to it. Also, that your attention span is higher than that of a modern day teenager.
To get a Java programmer's position without programming experience or University degree... I suppose it's possible. I don't know about probable.
Maybe it would be advantageous to learn some HTML and try to get into a Web programming shop where they are also doing Java, and work your way up with self-study and initiative.
 
willie blue
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I apologize about my earlier posts. I was frustrated by dealing with some HR folks and just wanted to vent a little. First time I've been called a whiner. I just had some issues with this whole drug testing thing in general. I realize that in this environment a person's views don't really matter and I must "go along with the program." I've peed in a few bottles in the last week and aced all my technical interviews. Thanks.
 
John Coxey
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Willie:
- Regarding your comment: "go along with the program." For now, it applies to all of us. Hopefully, when you get to be the CEO or HR-Director, you can change the rules.
- For a good discussion on this, read Colin Powell's "My American Journey". He recalls after his injury in Vietnam (he stepped on a punji stick) how he could not get food at a "whites only" restaurant in Alabama. He also recalls how there were no memorials to black soldiers in WWI or WWII. He made up his mind at that time, that when he got to a position of authority, he would change things. For the time being, he had to grin in bear it.
- When Colin finally reached the higher ranks, he decided to head up a group to raise a memorial to the black soldiers. I believe it's called the "Buffalo Soldiers Memorial" and it is at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. The restaurant issue had already been taken care of by the civil-rights movement by the time Colin had reached a position of authority.
- The story provides a great lesson. And it's certainly applies here.
- Also, the back cover of the book has Colin Powell's list of 10 rules. Can't wait until someone asks me at an interview, "Tell me about a book you just read", and I go up to the board and write out these 10 rules.
- So "grin and bear it". Stay focused on your objectives.
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
John Coxey
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Joeseph:
"I crack you up" - I hope this was meant in a good way.
- As you can see, this whole interview thing is just a big game. Pursue it as that, and the process doesn't have to be so intimidating. After 2 layoffs, and now a [ossible 3rd in this industry, it's fun (for me at least) to share my experiences and thoughts.
- Regarding college vs. no-college. Read through the "Jobs Discussion" forum. Your question comes up a lot. Like Tony said, a real college degree is not a "waste of time". I know you probably need to get out and make some $$$. If you do decide on a technical school - make sure you do your homework on it before you sign up. And beware of these $18K/18month HTML WebMaster type schools.
- Regarding getting a job with ONLY the SJCP and no portfolio of programms and no degree. I have to say it's pretty rough. I know, others on this board have disagreed, but this is from my experience.
- If you take a class at the local community college - my first step before big-time college. See if they may have some internships, or anything that can get you some experience in this field.
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
[This message has been edited by John Coxey (edited February 23, 2001).]
 
Mark Herschberg
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John Coxey wrote:
Also, the back cover of the book has Colin Powell's list of 10 rules. Can't wait until someone asks me at an interview, "Tell me about a book you just read", and I go up to the board and write out these 10 rules.


Ok, I have to ask, what are the rules? :-)

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
 
John Coxey
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Colin Powell's 13 Rules of Life
-------------------------------
1. It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the
morning.
2. Get mad, then get over it.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when
your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4. It can be done!
5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
6. Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
7. You can't make someone else's choices. You shouldn't let
someone else make yours.
8. Check small things.
9. Share credit.
10. Remain calm. Be kind.
11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
12. Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

-------------------
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
Tony Alicea
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The same day that I posted my resume in a USENET newsgroup a year ago (computer programming jobs in South Florida) I got a call from Ft. Lauderdale and they asked me to take a TEST on Java over the Web. I agreed and passed it very well according to them, considering that it had questions about Servlets, RMI and JDBC of which I knew very little at the moment (I had just passed the SCPJ2 w/98% score).



They said that my 82% score was unusually high! (When she first told me the score I felt bad since I got a much higher score on the SCPJ2!) I asked and she said that most of the "high scores" were in the 60s%



That test then led me to a Java phone interview the very next day (no wait!). The following is a cut and paste from that time:
"As some of you know, I have never written a line of Java code in exchange for money, but you know what? The interviewer said that he would not hold it against me because he knows the situation. He liked the fact that like, him, I was a physics major in college who "betrayed the field" and became programmers instead.
It all went "very well" according to him at the end. However, he was under the impression that:
1) a non-final method cannot be made final in a subclass because it is "more restrictive" to do so. I respectfully disagreed.
2) there is an access modifier that allows ONLY subclasses to directly access a variable in a class WITHOUT allowing access by classes in the same package that are NOT subclasses. He thought protected did the job. And he thinks I was wrong in saying that it could not be done. What do you think? Did I miss something in my studies? Simply put, protected is less restrictive
than package access so...!!
Anyway, I expect them now to schedule a personal interview <CODE>[which the did, and which was followed immediately by an attractive offer]</CODE> in Ft. Lauderdale, "Where The Girls Are"
BTW, I have NO IDEA of what salary is involved...
PS: The guy had a Master's Degree in Physics and another in Comp Sci."

After accepting one of the two offers that I got in 6 days after posting my resume in the USENET newsgroups, I got yet another request to take a Java test over the Web.
I didn't tell the recruiter that I already had accepted and I still don't know why I said yes but I took it anyway (well, I somewhat did...):
"A recruiter form Austin, TX asked if I could take a Java test over the Web and I did (40 questions). Knowing that I already had a choice of what I consider to very good offers in South Florida, and having accepted ONE, I agreed.
By the 35th question I became completely bored and I said to myself "Never Again!" NO MORE TESTS!
So, for the remaining questions I just marked answers at random to finish, having this being the LAST JAVA TEST that I take!
Even so, they told me that I did better than 93% of the takers of the exam..."
 
Greenhorn
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On the "Should I go to college" question - many companies won't give you a look if you don't have the sheep skin (mine included). I'm not saying agree, I'm just telling you what my experience has been.
On a personal note though - I know several developers without degrees and they are fine coders - with jobs.
 
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Originally posted by Jon Rollins:
On a personal note though - I know several developers without degrees and they are fine coders - with jobs.


Well, being one in this category - a programmer without a degree - it's easier said than done.
I think you'll find that a lot of the programmers who don't have college degrees (I have four years of college, just no degree, and not in CS/IT) have simply been in the field long enough to have sufficient experience to override it. After a certain number of years, potential employers look at your job history and post-collegiate education such as certifications more than they do at your school history.
(But then again, as mentioned, I did study for four years at a university, and I suspect most of the employers who read my resume simply assumed I'd 'omitted' my degree when I listed my studies. My current employer was one of those.)
Then again, it's also different today. I don't think it's easy anymore to get into programming without formal education the way it was a few years ago when everyone was self-taught.
 
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