Sunday, August 22, 2010

In I,T, contracting, technical phone interview quizzes are popular

With all this talk about interviewing tips, it’s well to note that for I.T. contracts, many screenings are done by phone.

In fact, sometimes a staffing company will call and indicate that a client is interested, and then a testing company will call and give you about a twenty minute oral exam by phone. Typically for COBOL and mainframe jobs, they will ask short answer questions. The classic question is about how to do a binary search, but in COBOL and JCL there is a tendency to ask to see if the candidate knows some of the less commonly used clauses on various statements. For example, does the candidate understand how “OCCURS DPENDENING ON” allocates storage, or understand Inspect, Tally, String, and know how to perform certain manipulations efficiently. There can be questions about static v. dynamic linking. There will be some specific questions about areas in IMS, IDMS, or DB2, or whatever the position requires. For example, in the DB2 or any SQL area there could be a question about correlated subqueries.

The technical phone interview concept is a nice one because it focuses on the specific job and tends to push aside nebulous concerns about social posture, online reputation, personality, etc. It is usually scored numerically like a test in college and reported to the client.

I one time had a phone screening from a client (in the health care field) who asked if I had put my books away! Unfortunately, I had to wait for him to call and the experience was a bit disruptive as he was late and I had moved on to other things. The interview didn’t work out.

Clients should be courteous enough to follow up with candidates promptly. Even in a slow economy, loss of interest becomes a two-way street.

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