I got an interesting comment on my article about the Top 10 Interview Questions for Senior DBAs. AngryDBA said:
“Man, I don’t mean to sound harsh but..you’re an expert DBA? I’m guessing you wouldn’t survive one of my interviews. I only expect the candidates to get 50%. I’ve had them all too. PhDs, Masters in blah-blah-blah, Captain of the Patterns Team at Yale majoring in C#, writing joins since she was in Pampers. Uh huh.”
Answering this requires more than just a comment.
My Dream House Checklist
I use RememberTheMilk to store a lot of stuff, including my list of things that I’m looking for in my dream house. I’m planning long term, baby! It includes things like:
- No ground-level windows – we don’t like people looking in or breaking in. We like high windows on the ground floor (like 7′ up). The other floors can have floor to ceiling windows, though.
- On the water, but no nearby vegetation – we hate bugs. Ideally, there wouldn’t be a plant on the property. I’m not kidding.
- Within walking distance of at least 2 restaurants – Erika and I really enjoy eating at restaurants. It’s nice to have other people take care of everything once in a while. Okay, often.
- Gadget nook in the entryway – I like having my electronic gear near the door so that I can grab it on the way out. Ideally, I’d have an inset nook in the wall with electric outlets, and the whole thing would be concealed so that wires weren’t dangling all over the place.
- Lots of AC ventilation in the kitchen – we love a really cold house. I’m talkin’ 65 degrees. Erika loves to cook, but the kitchen always gets hot, because no house’s AC is ever designed to pump that much cold air into the kitchen while keeping the rest of the house tolerable. Speaking of which….
- Very powerful but very quiet AC – I don’t want to hear the air conditioning kick on and off, but I want the house at 65, and no, the answer isn’t leaving the air running full blast 24/7.
- Silent garage door openers – I get up early in the morning and I like taking drives. I hate it when the garage door opener vibrates in a way that you can hear it in the bedroom. (Yes, there’s a lot of silent items on this list.)
I could go on and on – the checklist has over 20 items on it at the moment. That doesn’t include my set of tear sheets with all of the interior design features and furnishings we’ve liked over the years, too, or my Delicious bookmarks tagged dreamhouse.
My Current Housing Checklist
Back in the real world, since I’m not making seven figures (yet), my housing search checklist is decidedly more utilitarian:
- Washer/dryer connections – I don’t want to go to a community laundry facility.
- Good phone/cable wiring – I need high speed internet access and old building wiring presents problems with that.
- Two parking spots – we’re looking at downtown one-bedroom lofts, and those don’t always come with two spots.
- Low crime rate – I don’t want to have to carry a gun when I walk the dog.
Notice the difference? Champagne tastes, beer budget. I can’t go asking about waterfront property with what I’m payin’. Asking about waterfront property when I can’t afford it doesn’t make me look good – and in fact, my real estate agent is pretty quickly going to start rolling her eyes when I call. “Here comes this bozo again, asking about waterfront property for fifty large. What a jerk.”
How This Relates to Database Administrators
If money wasn’t an object, my interview question list would simply be:
- Is your name Paul Randal?
However, money is always an object. Even when you think money isn’t an object, you have to ask yourself if you would hire one super-expert-senior DBA, or hire two solid but not super-expert DBAs. My DBA interview questions aren’t designed to separate Paul Randal from the rest – they’re designed for companies who need to find somebody reliable without spending a fortune.
One of my favorite sayings is that there’s two kinds of questions: the ones designed to find out how much the other person knows, and the ones designed to show off how much you know. Showing off in interviews doesn’t impress the candidate – and in fact, it does the exact opposite. Humiliating a candidate makes them bitter about your company before you even make them an offer. If your candidates rarely achieve 50%, then you’ve got a disconnect between your tastes and your budget.
Start asking questions that your candidates might be able to answer.
Otherwise, you’re just showing them you’ve got a lot of DBA-ness.