1 server, 10 workstations, 1 idiot, 1 cup


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    So I have the joy of interviewing at the moment for new people to join my team. I work supporting clinical equipment and software - I'm sure most know.

    Networking is something my team lacks in skill. I am from a background in industrial programming, one of my team members is an oracle specialist, I have a clinical head, a former .net dev and a crypto specialist.

    Collectively we were wracking our brains for good networking questions to ask our new applicants so we can close the skill gap.

    I felt bad that asking "you have a client server application. 1 Server. 10 workstations. One workstation is reported to not be working. What would you check?" But that's the best entry level question we could come up with.

    From a decent applicant I'd have expected a few answers for that. Ping, traceroute, ports, AV - you know, pretty generic stuff.

    The answer I got, however, was kinda priceless.

    "I'd check AD, because the computer needs to be on the domain to connect."

    CV claimed ten plus years of networking experience.

    I was a bit perplexed and decided to help the applicant along.

    "What about a client in a work group?"

    "A what?"

    "A work group. Well, moving on, anything else you can think of?"

    "It's well known among network professionals that AD is the only cause."

    Took effort to pad the interview to the full planned hour afterwards.

    I did ask about Citrix which earned me a blank stare. I really wonder where HR find these people.


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    @royal_poet said:

    I felt bad that asking "you have a client server application. 1 Server. 10 workstations. One workstation is reported to not be working. What would you check?" But that's the best entry level question we could come up with.

    From a decent applicant I'd have expected a few answers for that. Ping, traceroute, ports, AV - you know, pretty generic stuff.

    The answer I got, however, was kinda priceless.

    "I'd check AD, because the computer needs to be on the domain to connect."

    At that point you just stand up, thank them for their time (and comic relief) and show them the door. If they ask if they should follow up in a few days, you tell them that will not be necessary. You can validate their parking if you are feeling nice.


  • area_pol

    What is AD?

    Maybe ask the candidate to design of a small network infrastructure (routers, IPs / masks / gateways / DHCP setttings), for example with a web server, internal network, AP for customers.



  • @royal_poet said:

    Took effort to pad hate interview to the full planned hour afterwards.

    Why did you?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @royal_poet said:

    Collectively we were wrecking our brains

    That's not good--next time, try [w]racking them instead.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Legal - he seemed like the kind that would construe being from an ethnic minority as my reason for cutting the interview short rather than his idiocy.


  • sockdevs

    @Adynathos said:

    What is AD?

    Given the talk of domains, my guess is Active Directory



  • Eh, fair enough I guess.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Pendant :-)



  • The question was kinda...eh, so the initial answer wasn't very bad, but the

    @royal_poet said:

    "It's well known among network professionals that AD is the only cause."

    part gave away his incompetence.

    If you'd like some networking questions I can probably help out, if you can give me the nature of the networking work they might end up doing. If not, I can still likely give you ones that will show they have some semblance of networking skill.





  • @Polygeekery said:

    At that point you just stand up, thank them for their time (and comic relief) and show them the door.

    But what if the door isn't properly registered in AD?


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    @DCRoss said:

    But what if the door isn't properly registered in AD?

    Wheel them towards the stairs? They are too stupid to continue living.



  • @DCRoss said:

    But what if the door isn't properly registered in AD?

    Then shut down the door, strip out its metadata with ntdsutil, give it a fresh build and re-promote it.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @rc4 said:

    The question was kinda...eh, so the initial answer wasn't very bad

    Yes it was. When given the problem that:

    @royal_poet said:

    "you have a client server application. 1 Server. 10 workstations. One workstation is reported to not be working. What would you check?"

    The only proper answer is: "What do you mean by 'not working'? Could you clarify that? In what way does it not work?"



  • That's more or less what I meant. I just figured the guy was spitballing.



  • @Polygeekery said:

    The only proper answer is: ...

    You could also try: "You have 9 spares, I wouldn't worry about it."


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    @Polygeekery said:

    The only proper answer is: "What do you mean by 'not working'? Could you clarify that? In what way does it not work?"

    Because if that fuckhead goes off and checks Active Directory when all he needs to do is turn the damned monitor on or plug in a network cable...then he needs to go find new work.


  • Dupa

    @No_1 said:

    Anno Dominium



  • @Polygeekery said:

    goes off and checks Active Directory

    That's when you end up with 10 workstations not working. And a server.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @No_1 said:

    You could also try: "You have 9 spares, I wouldn't worry about it."

    Yeah right. Just a few weeks ago we had a client who lost their shit because one printer stopped working. There are more than 15 printers in the building and she wanted us to hurry right out and look at it. My response was very polite and courteous that we would address it as soon as possible.

    What I wanted to tell her is that her big ass could stand to walk a bit more so I wasn't too concerned about the printer in her office not working.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    It's nothing too fancy I need. We support customer systems we have limited admin access on. We usually have a local admin on our server, but no access to things like Citrix, Active Directory, Domain Controller, Group Policies, or the physical hardware.

    Customers provide their own hardware, that must meet certain specs but is very variable.

    What I need is someone who can can work out at which router packets get lost, create and read wire shark traces, troubleshoot with telnet, understand how to set up a Citrix server and publish and application on it. Ideally it would be helpful if we had someone who could identify latency problems. We have issues like barcoding over Citrix not working or traffic on certain ports not arriving. Familiarity with cards and drivers. Being able to work out from an event log/ traffic log why comms are interrupted.

    For the most part the person needs to interface to customer IT and be able to prove or disprove their claims about network performance. Some of the customers send me their entire networking profiling logs to prove that something isn't their system being misconfigured.

    So I guess familiarity with tools and being able to read logs like that.

    I don't need a designer or anything too advanced. It's just costing us a lot of time currently to deal with issues that I have to look up in Google rather than confidently know what's going on.

    We thought this would really be entry level stuff for someone with any kind of networking/ cs qualification. Though from the applicants we are getting I am despairing.

    The other one I saw today asked me if I could explain what XenApp was as opposed to Citrix.

    2 years Citrix experience per CV.


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    @royal_poet said:

    The other one I saw today asked me if I could explain what XenApp was as opposed to Citrix.

    2 years Citrix experience per CV.

    But an entire lifetime's experience in lying through their teeth.



  • To be fair the CV could have gone through a recruiter, there are plenty of them that will edit so that someone gets an interview.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    That was partially the point - to pose the question like the customers would. Because being able to get those answer is a useful skill in support. I did say he could ask me anything about the problem ... And that he could try steps and I'd tell him what "happens".



  • @Polygeekery said:

    Because if that fuckhead goes off and checks Active Directory when all he needs to do is turn the damned monitor on or plug in a network cable...then he needs to go find new work.

    Yeah, but if he's sitting there and gets a call, it might be easier to check AD, especially if that's a pretty common reason. I have no idea. I'm not a networking or a windows guy. But as a first thing, it doesn't strike me as ludicrous.

    I know other devs often look first at different things when they investigate a bug. It's when they ignore everything else that it's a problem.


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    @boomzilla said:

    especially if that's a pretty common reason

    It isn't. At the point he said that, he didn't even know what "doesn't work" means, unless @royal_poet left out a lot of detail in the interest of brevity.

    With that being said, if he had suggested something pretty simple as a first troubleshooting step because he inferred some reason for the failure and tried opening a browser to access Google, or a ping test, or even verified the machine would boot, I might not ding him too badly. But the correct answer is to find out what the user means when they say something doesn't work.

    Hell, you can't even trust users who might sound like they know what the issue is. When a typical user says, "My hard drive crashed", they mean something went wrong with the tower. They don't mean the same thing as you and I do when we say a hard drive crashed.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    First would have been fine. It's sufficiently weird as you don't need a domain or AD to have a network - but he insisted it was the only and definitive answer.

    I thought it was just nerves as first as he seemed jumpy so I tried to help out a bit... But he could not think of any hardware causes or software causes or configuration beyond that.

    Hopefully tomorrow will be better candidates.


  • sockdevs

    @locallunatic said:

    there are plenty of them that will edit so that someone gets an interview.

    that's one of the reasons why i ask the applicant for a current resume in the interview, and if they don't have one on them* i'll show them the one i got from the recruiter and ask them if it's accurate. If they say no that recruiter gets a nasty gramme about that and if this is not the first time they've done it to me their CVs go straight into the circular file from then on

    *it happens and while that's a negative mark for me it won't disqualify you from the job


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    We have recruitment in-house as part of HR. Sometimes it feels like that makes it worse.



  • @royal_poet said:

    2 years Citrix experience per CV.

    I think that's recruiterese for "I once worked with someone who used Citrix two years ago".


  • sockdevs

    @royal_poet said:

    We have recruitment in-house as part of HR. Sometimes it feels like that makes it worse.

    doesn't change my response. if you as a recruiter edit your applicants resume without their knowledge and/or consent then you are going to be getting a nastygramme from me and i'm going to ignore applicants from you in future because i cannot trust you the recruiter (after you burn your one strike anyway).



  • @royal_poet said:

    It's sufficiently weird as you don't need a domain or AD to have a network - but he insisted it was the only and definitive answer.

    To be fair, 10 workstations and a server would be an awful experience if you don't set up a domain. In order to access shared files on the server, the users would have to either enter a server user and password almost every time they browse the shared folder (which is different from the username and password they use to log onto their workstation), or make sure the same username with the same password is set up on the server. Windows Server versions default to expiring passwords every six weeks. When the server password expires, the user would just get a cryptic "access denied" error message. They wouldn't see the "your password has expired" message unless they go to the server and log in, or attempt to remote into the server.



  • @Jaime said:

    expiring passwords every six weeks

    Surely you would just have one account on the server and have everyone log in with the same username and password?

    AKA 'Poor man's SSO'.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    A lot of our smaller customers with sizes up to 20 WS work that way. We also have customers on Linux systems. So it's often enough that we see this in the field. Maybe it is less common in other industries.

    Usually the route they go for is same passwords everywhere which is not as terrible as it seems as first as these are usually closed systems with no net access.

    Still annoying though, I agree.



  • @No_1 said:

    Surely you would just have one account on the server and have everyone log in with the same username and password?

    That's called a domain in Windows-land. If the workstation doesn't join a domain, a user can only log in with workstation credentials, not server credentials.



  • Eh, I'm not going to argue for him and I absolutely agree that "doesn't work" is not a problem report, but he's indirectly right about one thing: Nobody uses workgroups, and less than nobody runs applications that require being on the same workgroup. If you need a server or if you have more than 5 users or 10 devices, you're probably running a domain because it gets to be a nightmare to manage if you don't. It'd be like going to a developer interview and being given a task to program in APL or ALGOL. You're asking about technology that hasn't been useful in 15 years, and for 10 years before that it was only used when nothing else was available.

    What you do is get a Samba server as a domain controller, or just pick up Server Essentials/Small Business Server and you use that since it gives you a domain and central administration.

    Otherwise, Polygeekery is right. There are two questions you can ask in response to a report that "It doesn't work": a) What do you mean, "it doesn't work"? b) Did you try turning it on? The latter is much more snarky.



  • @rc4 said:

    The question was kinda...eh, so the initial answer wasn't very bad, but the

    @royal_poet said:

    "It's well known among network professionals that AD is the only cause."

    part gave away his incompetence.

    I'm willing to go out on a limb and assume that the guy meant "it's well known among network professionals that AD is the correct way to administer a workplace network", but the language barrier and/or him not wanting to offend you and lose any chance of the job got in the way of his saying that.

    @Polygeekery said:

    if that fuckhead goes off and checks Active Directory when all he needs to do is turn the damned monitor on or plug in a network cable...then he needs to go find new work.

    By the time you're asking the network administrator for help debugging your connection issue, I certainly hope you made sure everything was turned on and plugged in correctly.


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    @anotherusername said:

    By the time you're asking the network administrator for help debugging your connection issue, I certainly hope you made sure everything was turned on and plugged in correctly.

    YMBNH



  • @royal_poet said:

    A lot of our smaller customers with sizes up to 20 WS work that way.

    Your customers are masochists. I don't doubt what you say, but their networks were set up by people who are not very good at it and they simply don't know that many of their computer annoyances are avoidable.



  • @Jaime said:

    That's called a domain in Windows-land

    Actually I was talking peer-peer, and not even a Windows workgroup to speak of. I meant literally that there is one account on the server, each workstation has a matching account with the same username and password, and passthrough authentication does the rest...

    I suppose 'Administrator' is as good as any, right? And as an extra bonus, no-one ever gets their account locked out.



  • @No_1 said:

    I meant literally that there is one account on the server, each workstation has a matching account with the same name and password, and passthrough authentication does the rest

    ... until the password expires on the server (but not on the workstation because the defaults are different). Then their shit just stops working without any useful error messages. Spending five minutes setting up a domain makes this problem disappear forever.



  • @No_1 said:

    I meant literally that there is one account on the server, each workstation has a matching account with the same username and password

    Also, please tell me how ...

    @No_1 said:

    just have one account on the server

    ... means one account on the server and a matching account on all workstations.



  • @Polygeekery said:

    @anotherusername said:
    By the time you're asking the network administrator for help debugging your connection issue, I certainly hope you made sure everything was turned on and plugged in correctly.

    YMBNH

    If @royal_poet is the one asking the interview questions, and I was hoping to be offered the job, I'm not going to imply that @royal_poet is probably too stupid to turn on the computer before asking me why it's broken.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Did you try turning it on would have been lovely. The nonsense we deal with is really like that at times.

    Unfortunately legacy systems are part of the medical world as hospital administrations are very resistant to change. We have customer who has refused free of charge upgrades including free hardware for ten years now because they trained their staff on the old "workflow" and can't justify the cost of changing.

    I have seen trwtf systems with about a hundred workstations in a group and the network nearly collapsing under the idiocy that is setting up a system that way. I was surprised anything worked at all there.

    Heck, we have someone on a token ring network still. I wonder where they even get their parts.

    And lol.. their networks are set up by people with no IT backgrounds at all. Think small medical practises with 10 to 15 staff members. They can't afford to hire an IT company so they have their physicist set it up and maintain it. And obviously no money for an IT person on staff.

    We do our best to support a bit of that on the fly - but of course there is a cut off point where we go "not our problem, sorry."



  • @Jaime said:

    until the password expires

    But of course, you set the passwords to never, ever expire. I don't know, you'll be talking about setting password complexity in the Default Domain Policy next...



  • My actual response, if I cared to cover those bases, would have probably been more like "well, assuming that you've already made sure it's plugged in, turned on, etc., I'd probably make sure that it's connected to the domain correctly."

    And my response when you asked about a workgroup would have been, :wtf: are you doing using a workgroup?



  • I had written up some questions, but then I realized that just using the Network+ sample questions would be your best bet. I'd pick 7 random ones per candidate to ask; they should be able to get 5/7 and if they do I'd say they probably know at least something about networking. Some are a little more esoteric than others, but any netadmin worth his salt should be able to answer most (if not all) of these with ease. Someone with minimal networking experience likely wouldn't get many (if any at all) correct.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I'll try some of these tomorrow. I am surprised I can answer a fair amount of them, so they must be basic indeed. :smile:


  • mod

    Well let's roleplay, I know jack shit about domains but I bet I score better:

    I'd be all "Well, I'd walk over and investigate the workstation that's having trouble. Do I see anything obvious?"


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