Technical Test

Subject: Technical Test
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 11:23:57 -0800 (PST)

A few people asked what the "technology test" is that I give (as mentioned in
my dot.bomb post). Although I will probably regret this, I'll post it
publically.

Below are some of the ****typical**** questions I ask for a technical eval. I
change it around from time to time, but this is the basics. Sometimes I add in
a hardware piece. Sometimes I add in specific application questions. But these
are the core questions:

Networking
What does TCP/IP stand for and what does it do?
What is the difference between a hub and a router?
What is the difference between TCP and UDP?
What does NetBIOS do?

Databases
What is a primary key?
What does a stored procedure do?
What is the purpose of DAO or ODBC drivers?

Programming
What is the difference between a class and a function?
What does an API do?
What is the difference between a script and an executable?
What are the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)?

Operating Systems
What does it mean when something runs as a service in Windows NT/2000?
Name some of the primary differences between FAT and NTFS file formats.
What is COM and what does it do?
What purpose does an abstraction layer, such as a hardware abstraction layer,
serve?

Internet
What is a form handler?
What is the primary difference between XML and HTML?
What do cookies do? What are some reasons why they are they used?

Now, if you're wondering why I don't ask about FrameMaker or RoboHelp - that's
not the purpose of the test. This test is designed to see how much writers know
about technologies we most often document. Not tools.

Yes, I have had people get angry and say "This is ridiculous!" As James T. Kirk
might say, "How we deal with death is as least as important as how we deal with
life." Thus, the test is as much a test of character as it is technical
aptitude.

Moreover, just because somebody gets an answer wrong does not mean they didn't
"pass". I think some of the best answers are when people try to reason out an
answer and come to a logical conclusion.

One candidate clearly did not know what NetBIOS was. But she recognized the
term "BIOS" and that "Net" was attached to it. So she reasoned out that it had
something to do with basic network operations. While not entirely correct - it
showed she could reason out a problem. We hired her. She rocks!

Andrew Plato


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