An Interesting Interview Story

We’ve been looking for a new Network Engineer for quite a while but are having no luck at all.  There is plenty of talent out there, but finding a high-end Juniper guy is almost impossible around here.  We’ve loosened up our requirement for Juniper experience just to get someone in for interviews.  This led us to one prospect and an interesting story.

This guy’s resume was very impressive.  For the last 5 years, he’s been the Network Architect at a very large company.  His experiences were off the chart.  Large-scale Enterprise deployments.  Monster PCI environments.  Years of Juniper experience.  Years of Cisco experience.  I had to talk to this guy, so I got a phone interview with him.

His phone interview was great.  We talked about all of the different models of Juniper gear.  All the different Cisco routers.  Checkpoint.  F5.  He even had experience with the FWSM and CSM (I’m the only other guy I know who’s dealt with those modules!).  This guy was dead on target with what we needed.  Before I knew it, it was 2 hours later, and I had to stop the call before we went too late into the night.  We hung up, and the other engineer and I huddled to talk about this guy.  There was no doubt about it; it was time to get this guy in for a face-to-face.  My Director and I met him for dinner the next week.  He was well prepared for everything we had for him.  He knew about the company.  He knew about each of us.  He had all the answers we wanted.  All thumbs up, so we moved on to the technical lab the next week.

I told him to be prepared for a BGP and an OSPF lab that would be on both Cisco 1800s and Juniper SRX 240s.  When he showed up, he had a notebook full of notes and configurations.  He had his laptop full of examples and implementation notes.  Wonderfully prepared this guy was, so I drew the lab on the whiteboards for him.  An routed VPN tunnel with BGP between a couple routers.  Some OSPF and redistribution here.  Some VRF/RI there.  Not very complicated, but not very easy either.

I expected him to be done in about 3 hours or so.  After 20 minutes, I asked him how we was doing.  He was still configuring IP addresses on interfaces.  After an hour, he was still working on getting OSPF working.  After two hours of struggling, I helped him get the VPN tunnel up and running.  Hour four was spent working through the VRFs and leaking.  I finally just called it done to give him a chance at the Juniper stuff in hopes that he was faster in Junos than IOS.  Nope.  At the 7 total hour mark, I finally just told him he had to go.

I was ready to hire this guy after the phone interview.  My Director’s loved him after the face-to-face and actually said he was worried that this guy would be bored in our environments.  The obvious moral of the story is that you have to actually challenge a potential coworkers before making a hiring decision.

And I will never think about hiring anyone without putting them through the paces.