Question: Tell me about time you did something that wasn’t asked from you.
Answer: I was working on the migration of logs from one host to another for storage. The team decided to take this opportunity to update the format of the log format from text written logs to binary logs.

Q: Why going for the binary approach?
A: The pros of binary logs are schema, compression, and structured information. However, the new log files are being written with protocol buffers, which are binary and so it was hard to verify the validity of the log files.

Interviewer: She mentioned something about protocol buffers. Inaudible to me. I had to ask the other interviewer. She also mentioned something about Atena AWS, something, something.

Q: Why is the information not structured with plain text?
A: Text logs are schemaless. It has to be enforced by the application.

Interviewer: Then she explained something she did as part of GDPR. It’s also on her resume but was not relevant here.

Q: What did you do?
A: I created some utility tools to view and grep the contents of these binary logs to allow operators to validate their content.

Q: What is the tool based on?
A: This was done in Java with Java regex as a simple command-line tool. I developed the tools independently of my work. I wasn’t tasked with creating the tools, so I didn’t have much time to commit to it.

Q: Is it in prod and used by other people?
A: Yes, it’s now shipped with the toolset of our team.

Analysis

Competency asserted: Think Big
Job title: SDE II

Vote: 👍

The candidate demonstrated the ability to think big, explaining how she built a series of tools to speed up her team’s development. Those tools are now used and shipped in prod. On top of that, she naturally mentioned a few points about scalability and thread-safety during the coding part.

Good bias for action. The candidate identified the need for a tool and created it without being asked to do so. No data for Think Big as this is isn’t “big,” but it is still impactful.

Learnings

The candidate deviated from the question that was asked by explaining another project about GDPR. The interviewers were not able to gently get the conversation back on track. The candidate ended up with less time for the coding part (that she failed due to lack of time).

The learning here is to pay attention to the body language and facial expressions of your interviewers. If you see that your interview is trying to say something, pause and let him/her talk.

Examples of Behavioral Questions and real-life interviewer feedback. Learn from the mistakes others made!