Good behavioural interview answers are rare. Today, I saw one of the best.
Here’s the question:
Give me an example of how you overcame an obstacle in a creative way
You can take a moment and try to answer it for yourself. I’ll wait.
Not easy right?
Most people are used to being told what to do every step of the way. When they get a question like this their mind goes blank.
Let’s call today’s interview candidate Bob. Bob’s mind did not go blank. Bob’s answer was pure genius.
Bob was using Amazon Web Services Data Migration Service (AWS DMS) v2. This kept two databases that were essential for his company’s product in sync. Everything worked and life was good.
Until one day AWS came out with version 3. Bob’s company tried moving to v3 and it failed. It appeared AWS had a bug. Bob’s company tried to get AWS’s attention to get this fixed. Unfortunately they were too small and were ignored.
AWS decided to move everyone to v3. DMS has a maintenance window every week and clients can set the day and time.
AWS set it so that DMS was automatically updated in the next maintenance window. This would break Bob’s product!
So Bob wrote a script that moved the maintenance window every week before it executed. Let’s say the maintenance window was on Monday. On Sunday the script would move it to Saturday. Then before Saturday rolled around it would move it back to Monday. It was always in the future and the update would never happen.
The cherry on top of this f*ck you cake is that he used AWS lambda to run the job that messed with AWSs plan 😂
At some point AWS reaches out to Bob saying:
hey, you are the last client using v2 and we want to sunset this thing!
Bob finally got their attention and AWS was able to confirm and fix the bug.
Bob lived happily every after. The End.
There are a couple of reasons I love this answer. It shows creativity and pragmatism. It also shows good communication to explain this clearly and concisely. But above all it shows ownership and grit. Bob had all the excuses in the world to let the product break:
- AWS was rolling out an update outside of his control.
- DMS had a bug.
- AWS was not responsive to fixing the bug.
These are damn good excuses. And he did not let it stop him.
I hired him. Wouldn’t you?
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