interviewers like our knowledge or our hands-on xp?

Hi JunLi

(to be published on my blog) Friday night i said in MSN chat that the all-important thing in the US job interview is textbook knowledge. With good knowledge, we pass. Without it, we fail. Knowledge is different from hands-on experience.

I was paid tens of thousands of dollars to develop software for real users, coding in C, weblogic, spring, hibernate, java transactions, ejb, jms, java threads …, but I dare not tell interviewers I know them well. I am afraid of their tricky questions.

Ironically, in real projects I have zero (or near-zero) hands-on experience coding hash functions, quicksort, outer joins, deadlocks, explicit Locks … but i gave convincing textbook answers to such interview questions.

Struts is an interesting case. I did use struts and something very similar to struts. Real hands-on experience. But interviewers often ask about things I didn’t need to know to use struts. Paradoxically, I was able to answer some struts questions based on my reading of struts books, even though i never used those features. In a nutshell, textbook learning helped my struts interviews; hands-on experience didn’t.

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