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Flashcards in 64 Tough Interview Questions Deck (64)
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Tell me about yourself


I am a software developer with 17 years of experience translating business requirements into well engineered, tested, and deployed applications.


Improving processes to increase productivity and and to assist with cross-training is what I am well known for among my peers. I do this by writing tools and documentation.


I am looking for a software development and test position where I can collaborate with others to provide an application with a great user experience.


Greatest strengths?

I continuously look for opportunities to improve and automate processes.


Fo example, our testing process needed improving to enable better reuse and to show better test evidence. So I did two things.

  1. First I developed a test reporting template. 
  2. Second I developed a test tool in which developers tested by writing SQL queries and test scripts, executing the test scripts, and saving the results in a test library. The results which is an HTML file for easy viewing, would contain
    1. the script so you know exactly how test was performed
    2. input and output files used by program being tested
    3. both before and after snapshots of the data.

The results were higher quality testing and consistency in test results.


Greatest weaknesses?

I sometimes have a problem staying engaged, performing tedious manual work. So I like to automate processes whenever I can.


Some examples include:

  1. Tool to transform Audit data from reports into a format that could be imported into a spreadsheet.
  2. Several tools to enable validation of deployment installs.


As an example, I was helping to capture some information for an audit which required adding data from various reports to an Excel spreadsheet. So I automated the process which could be reused in future audits and reduced the risk of manual human errors.


Tell me something you did or failed to do that you are ashamed of.

I do wish I had the insight to have developed the test tool much sooner. I had been automating my testing without the use of a test tool, but had I developed the test tool sooner, other developers and testers could have more easily done so too and we would have had a library of reusable test scripts.


Why are you leaving (or why did you leave)?

Every year IBM moves jobs offshore to increase profits and my position was one of many that was moved this year. But I am looking forward to new opportunities to utilize my many talents.


The silent treatment...

Is there anything else I can answer related to that last point?


Why should I hire you?

[Requires good understanding of job requirements to answer this.] I have earned a reputation as a developer that gets the job done.


For example, when there is a very tight schedule I have found ways to divide the work up, having developers help each other. I would have an under assigned developer help with the planning and implementation of unit test cases.


I have a passion for improving and automating processes.


Aren't you over qualified?

Currently I am unemployed. I want to work, very much, and this position closely matches what I really like to do. Also there is great potential to gain more technical skills which is something I am striving to accomplish.


Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I am interested in making a longtime commitment for my next position as I have done in the past working for IBM. I am confident I will have similar opportunities here.


Describe your ideal company, location, and job

  1. Company: Company that respects their employees, is customer-centric, and strategic.
  2. Location: Southeastern state as I prefer warmer climates with plant life that accommodates my interest in gardening and garden touring.
  3. Job: A job where I am engaged and can make a difference.


Why do you want to work for our company?

Your company meets my top goals: Company that is strategic, customer-centric, and respects their employees. [Must do homework to best answer this question. When possible explain how company meets my goals] Best sources for researching your target company: annual reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles about the company in the trade press.]


What are your career options right now?

I am actively following some job leads, networking, and researching companies to identify my target companies.


Also, I am studying up on various technlogies to expand my skills.


Why have you been out of work so long?

Having spent my entire career working at IBM, this job search process is all new to me. So I have spent time learning the process. I am looking forward to the change and to new opportunities.


Tell me honestly about the strong and weak points of your boss (company, management team, etc.)

Doesn't micro-manage unless needed. Self managed for the most part.


What good books have you read lately?

  1. Emotional Intellegence
  2. Steve Jobs (official biography initiated by Steve)


Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized.

I have rarely been criticized.


But I did work with a developer in which we greatly respected each other's work, but we sometimes didn't agree on each other's methods. This could be challenging at times and sometimes required compromises.


What are your outside interests?

Gardening, garden tours, swimming, walking, and just being outdoors in nice weather. These can all be great stress relievers which often accompanies the IT profession.


The fatal flaw question


Example: Why no recent certifications.

It has been something I had considered, but I wasn't sure which direction my career at IBM was going. As more jobs were being moved offshore, there were less opportunities at IBM. Thus I was unsure of what certifications would be of best use.


How do feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman, etc.)?

Every employee is deserving of respect regardless. I enjoy working with a diverse group.


On confidential matters

Probably not applicable to my situation... Just proceed with caution and don't reveal anything.


Would you lie for the company?

[Ask for clarification.] Do you mean withholding of information which can be critical in some situations? Can you provide an example? I would never do anything to hurt the company.


Looking back, what would you do differently in your life?

Every experience in life is a lesson. Learning to appreciate the value of these lessons is important. I am sure that in hindsight I would do some things differently such as better balance my career against the needs of the projects.


Could you have done better in your last job?

The potential for doing better always exists. We are all human and have both good and bad days. But overall I did an excellent job as reflected by my appraisals.


Can you work under pressure?

Software development can be stressful at times, but at the same time interesting.


  1. Story about how I spent 3 weeks fully implementing 3 modules which another developer failed to accomplish.
  2. Story about how John and I worked on sev 1 data replication problem around the clock.


What makes you angry?

  1. People that aren't doing their job properly, repeatedly even after being provided with directions.
  2. Poorly designed, implemented, or supported applications.


Why aren't you earning more money at this stage of your career.

In the past my focus has been to the projects and not so much on my career. I have come to realize that it is important to balance both more equally.


Who has inspired you in your life and why?

My colleague John at IBM. When problems would arise he would get people to not focus on blaming someone but instead resolving the problem. He is the most proactive person I have ever met. I was very fortunate to work with him for 13 years.


What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?

There was a sev 1 problem with the data due to a replication problem. Users had to be kept off the system while being fixed impacting the SLA. I had to decide how to best fix the problem, minimizing down time and impacting the least number of users.


My project manager asked me if developers tested thoroughly because function test was unable to meet their schedule. He wanted to understand the risk in releasing code to User Acceptance Test. I decided that although not optimal, in this case it was okay. Code was released with little impact.


Tell me about the most boring job you ever had

The least interesting job I ever had was in the build and support of the VM operating system platform which was used internally and globally within IBM.


I prefer a software development role, but I found opportunities to develop tools. Also I gained a better understanding on how to write documents for a lesser skilled audience which helped me later on other jobs.


Have you been absent from work more than a few days in any previous position?

I have been fortunate to have not had anything keep me from working other than an occasional illness. Even when sick, I usually continue to put in at least some hours of work each day, working from home.