Monday, July 25, 2011

Interviewing with BAE

Here is a description of the process I went through when interviewing for my first real job out of grad school. I interviewed with BAE-AIT specifically. The whole process started because I posted on Facebook that I needed a job. One of the employees in that office found that and sent me in as a referral. I had never met the guy or heard of the office, but it got things rolling and they kept rolling until I had a job! It has been three and a half years since I went through this process, so my memory fails me at some points.

  1. I had my first interview over the phone with a section lead (manager of half-a-dozen people). He asked me about my history and my interests. No real technical questions, although we did talk intelligently about my school work up to that point. Whatever I said must have been good because they then decided to bring me across the country (from Utah to Massachusetts) for a full day of interviews.
  2. I spent a solid day interviewing.
    1. My first interviewer gave me an overview of the company (with slides) and described the main product, ATIF. The technology was not directly related to my academic experience, but it looked cool and she claimed to like the questions I asked.
    2. Next, I gave my presentation. I essentially gave a combination of my LCTES and PLDI talks. It went really well. This, more than anything else, landed me the job (I think). My future manager asked me some fairly specific technical questions that I fielded well. One audience member asked me a question to make sure he understood what I had done. When I answered that he had it right, he leaned back in the chair with his hands on his head and said "wow."
    3. My first real interview did not go so hot. The interviewer asked me about object oriented design. I had known this was coming and had studied on the plane, but I still thought too much like a C programmer. I was glad to be done with this one.
    4. Second up was my future manager, although I did not know it at the time. He had asked some tough questions during my presentation, but the technical question he asked me during the interview was about bit manipulation. He wanted me to reverse the order of the bits in an int. Not a problem.
    5. I had one more interview before lunch. This one had a technical question about developing a protocol for communication between two processes. I did not think I handled it too well, but I also do not think I bombed it.
    6. For lunch I went with two section leads. They both spoke in glowing terms about the company, and their enthusiasm was contagious.
    7. The final technical interview that I remember went over a home grown data structure for managing search trees. The engineer I talked with and I just walked through the white paper and discussed the pieces. He did not seem to be trying to judge me as much as showing me what kinds of problems they dealt with.
    8. My last interview of the day was with the director (manager of a handful of sections). Unfortunately, my brain was fried by this point and I do not think I put up my best performance. I must not have done too bad, though. . .