Interviews pt 1

So, as part of my day job, I have the dubious honour of interviewing technical people for working in our company. It’s a chore that all the senior techs endure and I quite like it. What I don’t like is when it doesn’t go too well. So here are some tips just in case you ever get me (or someone like me) interviewing you :

  1. Just like first date, standing the other person up is a no-no. I’ve just wasted a day’s lunchtime that could have been spent having some excellent Thai food because some contractor couldn’t be bothered to tell us he wouldn’t be coming for a pre-arranged interview. Seriously, just don’t do it. Being late is, at least, defendable (hey – we all use the trains over here in the UK and know what they’re like), but being AWOL – particularly if someone is postponing their lunch to be able to see you is a Bad Thing.
  2. Blagging – generally, don’t. We all blag a bit, but there is a big difference between saying you use a tool day to day when you’ve used a handful of times ever, and just talking randomly about something until you see the interviewers face light up. We recently had one phone interview where the interviewer heard the interviewee get prompted after flailing around for 5 mins. Blag carefully.
  3. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response to a question. Nobody expects you to know everything about everything, but someone out there seems to be telling people that they must give some sort of answer and that level of blagging is silly (see above). I’d much rather trust someone who feels that they can be honest with me.
  4. Less is more : if you are spending 10 minutes answering each question, then you aren’t blinding me with your in-depth knowledge, you are boring me senseless. Please try and give short, concise answers – I’ll ask if I want you to go into more detail.
  5. Keep your CV short. I don’t need to wade through 8 pages of various project histories. I want to see 2 or 3 relavant pages of experience plus a summary with the right things on it. Don’t simply list every version of every technology under the sun that you may have touched – keep it short and you can always work the fact that you’re a dab hand with Cucumber into the interview
  6. Lastly, the interview is about how you are going to do the job at the company interviewing you, not how you currently do it now. Think about that. I am a testing fascist – to me unit tests are sacred and integration and web-tier testing are critical success factors in a project. If you don’t do it now, then shrugging your shoulders and going ‘oh we don’t bother with that stuff’ isn’t going to greatly impress me. Think about what I want┬áto hear you say : I want to hear you complain bitterly that not enough testing takes place in your opinion.

So do a little bit of research into the company you are going to and make sure that you know what kind of place it is and how they do things. Then swot up a little bit – Agile is common these days but people rarely get it 100% right so ask how the company does at implementing it all : that should keep them on their toes.

More later…

The Wonderful World of Kurzweil


So when people ask me ‘what make of keyboard should I buy?’, I always give the same response : Kurzweil. Why? Well let’s look carefully :

  1. The sound : a lot of modern synths make sound by taking a rather drab basic sound and smothering it in effects to make it ‘interesting’ or ‘exciting’. It’s a cheap dodge as FX chips are cheap and the manufacturer can then skimp on the basic tone of the synth. Kurzweil’s aren’t like this – in fact, they demonstrate really badly to most people because they don’t sound ‘impressive’ – but they DO sound good, respond well to the player’s touch and don’t swamp a mix with loads of FX.
  2. The synth engine : it’s called ‘VAST’ and it is a clever combination of the idea of fixed fx blocks and algorithms, but is more flexible as one layer can feed into the next creating a composite algorithm. Plus the dsp blocks which make up the oscillators, filters, etc are really good. And you can do great things with modulation. In short, it’s a programmers wet dream.
  3. The price : the older ‘K2′ series (K2000, K2500, K2600, K2661) used to be very expensive, but the newer machines (the PC3 series) are really great VFM. These days, they are actually cheaper than the corresponding Roland or Korg!
  4. The ‘If it’s good enough for Pink Floyd’ factor : childish I know, but if you look at most big rock acts these days, you’ll find a Kurzweil somewhere – and it’s not as if they give them away. These days they are a ’boutique’ synth manufacturer. But one who still understands how to hold on to their market!

Given all that, I’m amazed that more people don’t have them! Or maybe they do – they s/h market is quite bouyant at the market which is stopping me from offloading my spares… :)

Hello world!

Assasin? Moi?

OK. So it’s pretty much time I started to keep track of things in this blog. Which raises two key questions :

1. What’s it for ?

2. Is it suitable for me?

What it is for is for me to write about good quality music making equipment or cool computer stuff. I am a geek after all, so ideally if it has both of those elements then I’m extra happy.

Is it for you? Are you a musician and also a tech geek? Might be interesting to read then…

ho hum