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A while back, I did a technical phone screen with a big online “social” company (I won’t say who, but they’re a household name, growing fast, and doing cool things; that doesn’t leave too many options). I rarely remember to write down interview questions, but I was cleaning out my desk this morning and came by a ripped-out sheet of notebook paper with a handful of the interview questions written on it. Most of them weren’t terribly difficult, or terribly unusual for competent technical interviewers, but since I happen to actually have the list written down, I though I’d share it. I don’t remember why the programming questions are all Python; likely, I was asked to choose between Python (which I’ve used, though not lately), Ruby (which I can barely muddle my way through reading on a good day), and something else I don’t know. Here are some of them…

  • What is an inode? What does it store?
  • What is a hard link?
  • What is the difference between a hard link and a soft link?
  • What is a list in Python?
  • Name some data structures that you’d use in Python. Describe them, and tell me why you would use them.
  • How would you list all the man pages containing the keyword “date”?
  • If the chmod binary had its permissions set to 000, how would you fix it?

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