Aug
28

I ran across this email on a mailing list today in regards to Cisco interviewing candidates before allowing them to take the exam.  It’s unconfirmed as to it’s authenticity but there have been stories of problems with certain CCIE lab locations (e.g. someone taking the lab for 4 or 5 other people, someone else with a very good memory but no Cisco networking skills taking the exam to just brain dump it, etc).

Dear Candidate:

On August 27, Cisco will introduce a pilot for the CCIE Routing and
Switching lab exam in Beijing, China. The pilot will add a 10-minute
interview that will assess the candidate's ability to apply expert-level
networking skills and knowledge to networking problems that are encountered
on the job. After the lab orientation, a panel of three experts will conduct
a verbal interview with each candidate, asking a series of expert-level
networking questions (questions and answers will be in English). The ability
to correctly answer these questions will affect the exam score. After
completing the interview, the candidate will have the entire 8 hours to
complete the lab portion of the exam.  These scores will then be
calculated and then combined for a total score which will decide a pass
or a fail.

Our goal with this email is to let you know that your day will extend beyond
the normal testing day by approximately one hour.  The additional hour will
be at the end of the day. We hope you find this interview process
enlightening and helpful as we continue to strive for the standard the world
has come to expect from CCIE.
About Brian Dennis, CCIE #2210:

Brian Dennis has been in the networking industry for more than 22 years, with a focus on Cisco networking for the past 16 years. Brian achieved his first CCIE in Routing & Switching in 1996, and is currently the only ten year CCIE that holds five CCIE certifications. Prior to working with INE, Brian taught and developed CCIE preparation courses for various well known training organizations. Brian not only brings his years of teaching experience to the classroom, but also years of real world enterprise and service provider experience.

Find all posts by Brian Dennis, CCIE #2210 | Visit Website


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52 Responses to “CCIE Lab Interviews?”

 
  1. Barooq says:

    Actually its great.
    CCIE exam should keep its elevated status.
    And all measures towards this end are fine.

    I know at least one guy who 3 days before his exam didnt know what vtp pruning is …
    And btw, he and sic 6 friends all cleared on their second attempts :@

  2. Mad_Prof says:

    Nice,

    That should eliminate the dumpers and Cisco gets to collect the lab fee.

  3. [...] CCIE Lab Interviews? – CCIE Blog [...]

  4. Ferret999 says:

    I agree with Barooq if it is true it is a good idea it shows that Cisco are serious about maintaining the value of the CCIE.

  5. [...] 28, 2008 Brian Dennis has a post up concerning an email that seems to indicate (as Brian states in his post this has NOT been verified) that CCIE candidates [...]

  6. Rick Mur says:

    I agree with this, it totally discourages the brain dump people.

    If you’d like, I have my lab on September 3rd in San Jose, I will ask the proctor about this interviews.

  7. bam says:

    I think it shows that there is a problem with the administration of lab exam. If people are able to brain dump it then they are getting the exam from someone somewhere.

  8. citywwm says:

    Yes, Its ture.

    In Beijing China , Cisco add a interview . Candidate should use english to answer the question .

    I think it’s unfair , Because english is not them mother tongue .

    If you want to test the candidate’s really ability , you can use chinese to ask .

  9. NTllect says:

    in general, it is a good idea, but there is lots of caveats: 1) how clearlry measurement will be; 2) don’t forget, that not every succefull engineer is fluent english speaker;
    etc.

    Once again, human test is worthy of attention.

  10. Harry says:

    My view is from the wording used in that email, I can tell it’s written professionally and doesn’t look like a joke from a bored person.

    People in the mailing list questioned, if this piece of new arrangement is real, how come it’s not published in the Cisco website. My opinion is that Cisco does not have the obligation to publish that so it is entirely up to Cisco on how to access a candidate ability during the lab test.

    My own conclusion: It looks like it is true.

  11. Barooq says:

    One thing I cannot understand.
    Why Cisco, a company as huge as it is, cant dish out new labs evey month.
    I mean there are a million things to ask in CCIE exam, and all brain dumping depends on one thing, that is questions being the same.

    Instead of making a lot of fuss about Non-disclosure, isn’t it better to create new set of labs, every month. These labs dont need to be drastically different. I mean each section, with the same topology can be modified easily. A full mesh frame running ospf, can be asked to make PPPoverFR just by asking for different authentication keys, a border area can be declared stub etc. So even same essential labs can be made different in 100 different ways.
    And in every three months or so, completely new set can be launched.

    I mean instead of stressing non-disclosure all the time, Cisco can make the labs in such a way that even if disclosed , a dumper cannot get 50 marks, much less 80 …

  12. bam says:

    “Why Cisco, a company as huge as it is, can’t dish out new labs every month.” – Barooq

    Cisco is first and foremost focused on the bottom line. I know you can make a case that certification brings in the bucks. But Cisco measures it cost centers quarterly — and much more often in sales.
    My point is that having qualified proctors make and administer labs is an expensive proposition when you consider that those same people might be better utilized as escalation engineers or pre-sales.

    But I agree with you that Cisco should do something about the brain dump issue. I think the real problem has to do with people who have access to the lab tests; proctors, contractors or other employees who are not safeguarding the materials or who are selling it. There is or was a problem there. Now they seem to be taking action — which is a good sign.

  13. Nico says:

    I think this is a great idea… almost like Ferrari having an interview before it sells a car to you.

    It should not be the only method relied upon to keep the integrity of the CCIE exam though. Exam security should also be beefed up to ensure the lab exam doesn’t get leaked.

    But adding an interview is an amazing addition to the CCIE certification, I am very happy about this development and I think it could add a lot of value to the CCIE status.

  14. wolfmen says:

    I think someone go about to collect the interview questions in Beijing China.

    Terrible Chinese .

  15. Barooq says:

    Bam
    say the guy who is incharge of developing the lab is at 250K per year. Awesome pay right.
    He dishes out a set of 5 labs a month and thats all he does.
    Now arounf 800-1000 people take R S exam every month across the world. Lets make it 500.
    1400 per candidate means 800K which is 4 years salary of this guy.
    Its not that expensive at all :)

  16. [...] found this interesting blog post on internetworkexperts blog about a 10 minute interview with CCIE candidates who are sitting for the lab.  Interesting stuff. [...]

  17. [...] Dennis over at Internetwork Experts blog caught wind of an interesting email from Cisco [...]

  18. bam says:

    “Its not that expensive at all” — Barooq
    Interesting math. First of all you need to account for the cost to the company for benefits, training, overhead, etc. In biz school we usually double the salary for an estimated cost to the company.
    Making labs isn’t as easy as you think. He has to wire TCL scripts to grade those labs. And — this is the hard part — he has to account for every possible solution to each of the questions and scenarios he writes. And — you need more than one person, right? Or are you comfortable with the idea of having one guy do it all? What if he wants to go on holiday or decides to leave or gets sick or is injured in a car accident? And — you probably need a peer review to make sure that the level of the questions meets the right difficulty level for the CCIE. Let me know if you want me to keep going…

  19. Darby Weaver says:

    It is confirmed by a friend of mine in China.

    Interviews are being done in China.

  20. Andrew says:

    A much better option would be to stop offering CCIE lab tests in China altogether.

  21. Cisco_Godfather says:

    Well thats good, i agree on this.

    WTH! Someone who don’t know how to configure VTP don’t need to let go inside the exam room!!!

    I think Cisco is about to take some serious steps regarding the CCIE Lab, for some reason i feel that CCIE will become like a CCNA exam!

  22. Darby Weaver says:

    Moti,

    At this rate, it will change the tide a bit. An in-person interview is always going to be unique and interesting. They may start with one question and it can go anywhere.

  23. CCIETalk.com says:

    I am glad to see this. Last time I checked, there was no IOS in chinese? I don’t care how bad your english is, you can still answer the technology related questions. It’s not like they are asking you to write perfect essays with correct grammer lol.

  24. Darby Weaver says:

    Exactly, if you cannot read it well enough – Tell me again how you passed the lab, a test that is as much about reading comprehension as it is configuration and troubleshooting.
    Now a person might have to write the answers. Speaking skills and writing skills are not the same. As a person who has studied a few languages now I understand this and respect people with a command of two or more languages.

  25. bam says:

    Folks, in general, people in networking speak English — yes, even in China. So having an English networking interview would not be considered strange to your typical networking engineer in China.
    But I’m with Andrew on this, China is still a difficult place to guarantee legitimacy and is probably not a good place to have a lab exam. Eventually it will be — but right now, it’s still a developing country, with all the problems that come with development. Bangalore — same problem.

  26. [...] tested Posted by colinmcnamara – August 29, 2008 on 6:22 pm | In Cisco | Brian Dennis over at Internetwork Experts blog caught wind of an interesting email from Cisco – In my opinion this change is both needed and [...]

  27. Hi

    Finally there is something cisco is doing to handle the epidempic of brain dumps.

    but just china they should be conducted everywhere. the buyers of such dumps are not limited to just china for starters it should start with immidiate effect in India.

    But as someone has mention obove the real problem lies within and cisco must look long and hard at many of its own weaklinks.

    3 Free attempts for cisco employees something needs to be done about.

    why not have like 4 to 5 version of every Lab with minor changes you can achive them
    I know for sure in India many people who are pursuing CCIE with the same “Enthusiasm” as they do CCNA.

    but yes interviews are certainly a good news and suddenly my four attempts does not sound like a joke.

    cheers

  28. Saurabh Garg says:

    Hi,

    I know my question is not related. But, I just want to know if anyone has free Secured CRT terminal emulator, and can send me across will of great help..

    Regards,
    Saurabh

  29. wolfmen says:

    I heard that the Cisco interview ask the candidate the same question in different day .

    In China , it’s terrible .

  30. Ahenning says:

    I agree that its unfair to have the interviews in english and personally if I dare to have my own opinion it would be that there are more illegitimate ccie’s coming from the US than china.

    Secondly I agree with Barooq that Cisco needs 50+ ccie labs at anytime. Create atleast 10 new labs every month.

    Same with test king, create 5000+ questions for the written. Sooner or later it will be easier to read the book three times than memorizing 5000+ questions.

  31. Darby Weaver says:

    What it boils down to is simple. Cisco is going to ask CCIE relevant questions, simple as that. It sounds like the 10 minute interview can go off on tangents. So they add an hour to the day.

    I can see a lot of question on fundamental topics that a CCIE candidate might be expected to know very well and understand even better – remember it is an expert’s exam.

    Technically, you’d think any candidate who is ready to spend $1400.00 for the exam should be ready to answer these questions mostly any day of the week.

    However, cheaters, gunmen, and the poorly prepared will likely not fair very well.

  32. Frank says:

    I can’t believe Cisco couldn’t see this coming. Bootleg everything comes out of China. Cisco put that lab there knowing there has been a major problem with the Chinese adhering to world standards and laws. Just shut the lab down. Hell, the Chinese stole Cisco IOS router code, what else did Cisco need to let them know this was a bad idea.

  33. Rob says:

    These questions are not impossible, but yes they are in english.

    While some candidates may have issues understanding the questions in english, the proctor is there to help them understand the question, and it is made sure that they understand it before they submit an answer.

    These are very fair questions. Any worthy CCIE candidate should be able to answer 80% of what they are asked without hesitation, and these answers sought after are very clear, to the point, and easy for a candidate to answer.

  34. Don says:

    Hi All,

    Yes I also think it is good to check the candidate real knowledge. But it is not fare to stress the candidate right beginning of the Lab date morning.

    I think it is more human if they can move the interview to end of the Lab because the English knowledge and the Lab handling pressure is very from one to another if he fails to answer these expert level question in the beginning obviously he will have a tough time on his 8 hours lab time which is unfair to do so…

    Having said that I think it is better not to wait until to check the CCIE Lab candidate knowledge until his Lab date. I think the bottleneck is lies with the CCIE Theory exam which is so simple to pass with a brain dump which leads lot of inexperience people to attempt the CCIE Lab since they have pass the CCIE Theory 1000 out of 1000 ! 

    And what about all the dumpers already pass the Lab with good memory ? Is there is way to screen them out ????

    Thx…

  35. Danny Sze says:

    No matter how the idea behind, a side effect is happened in Hong Kong. All China guy currecntly tend not to exam in Beijing, they travel to the nearby city, Hong Kong. Cisco Office in Hong Kong are out of available booking in these few months, even next year…

    I, as a Hong Kong IE candidate, would like to exam locally, however, now I need to pay travelling fee to take exam in Beijing instead.

    Therefore, how come Cisco just do a pilot in Beijing only? I believe Beijing is one of country that located most of dumpers.. Should Cisco try to use another methods to validate IE candidate ‘s ability? Finally, I don’t believe this is a good news since it would bring side effects in Hong Kong that I live.. ^^

  36. [...] On August 27, Cisco will introduce a pilot for the CCIE Routing and Switching lab exam in Beijing, China. The pilot will add a 10-minute interview that will assess the candidate’s ability to apply expert-level networking skills and knowledge to networking problems that are encountered on the job. After the lab orientation, a panel of three experts will conduct a verbal interview with each candidate, asking a series of expert-level networking questions (questions and answers will be in English). The ability to correctly answer these questions will affect the exam score. Continues [...]

  37. Phil G says:

    Cisco need to pull labs from China and India full stop. These countries are full of the ‘I want CCIE now without putting in the effort’ candidates and are devaluing a cert that myself and many others worked very hard to attain.

    Braindumps have effectively killed the Cisco professional certs – most candidates I interview are CCDP/CCNP level and when I dig deeper havent a clue about basic networking as they all braindump now. Even course lecturers are advising people to get them to help prepare for exams.

    I feel for the genuine CCIE takers in these countries but the forums are full of Jamesh and Sandeep wanting ‘answers for CCIE lab questions’. Enough is enough.

  38. Ryan Ho says:

    I know that there is a special group over “there” specialise in studying CCIE. They have a secret forum to share the real questions and answers. But I don;t really know how do they get the real questions. Those “CCIEs” from there, usually do not have any or very little networking experience and they do not have ccna or ccnp .. but CCIE straight away… then they will leave their country to find jobs elsewhere.

  39. Vinu sharam says:

    I do agree with Don ,but i don’t agree to have interview …cause the person will be in solid pressure and if he/she will enter the room and attend the interview and by mistake if he /she will not give more answers then i believe the person will loose confidence, and resultant will be FAIL of CCIE LAB EXAM and more DIPRECTION …..some person will do suicide  also due to loose money 1400 $ (if they are not Cisco Employee who do have 3 Free attempts) …a lot candidates will come to CCIE LAB to get good job with good salary …actually i had seen that they are too intelligent ..

    Truly i am not agree with Cisco to have CCIE LAB interview …better they need to take action about the leak of information form some where.

  40. Vinu sharma - INDIA says:

    I do agree with Don ,but i don’t agree to have interview …cause the person will be in solid pressure and if he/she will enter the room and attend the interview and by mistake if he /she will not give more answers then i believe the person will loose confidence, and resultant will be FAIL of CCIE LAB EXAM and more DIPRECTION …..some person will do suicide  also due to loose money 1400 $ (if they are not Cisco Employee who do have 3 Free attempts) …a lot candidates will come to CCIE LAB to get good job with good salary …actually i had seen that they are too intelligent ..

    Truly i am not agree with Cisco to have CCIE LAB interview …better they need to take action about the leak of information form some where.

  41. Parthasarathy says:

    This is all just roomer friends. The mail has no header and footer. Cisco will provide its announancements in the below portal not in mail. in Aug there are two announancement and none related to this topic. hxxp://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/ccie/index.html

  42. Paulo Baptista says:

    Cisco took about 7-8 years to accept it was happening. For those who are CCSI and CCIE candidates like me, will understand what I am saying here. This interview can and must be done at every lab exam location, no matter what main language you speak. This is not going to measure our proficiency in English but filter those who have no minimal skills for this certification. Like for CCSI exam, you can ask for a translator if necessary. CCIE written exam is just a first step for this certification but it does not measure your real life skills and so any one studying “brain dumps” can pass it. However, a practical exam like the lab itself goes much further because it measures candidate’s performance and skills. This interview should be viewed like an intermediate step to create a “trustiness barrier” and validate those TRUE CANDIDATES. I think those that have prepared in a structured and well planed way should not be afraid of this new “variable” but think that this will create even more VALUE to the certification into the real world of Networking. Like at college, we may have become very good engineers but when we were preparing for examinations, no matter how hard we studied, if we did not pass at first attempt it would mean we should have to make improvements and study on our weakest points and go for a new attempt. As a final word, I think this is a good and well expected new step to increase CCIE’s certification reputation inside IT world.

  43. Chandu says:

    I’m curious to see if Cisco will provide a statistic on how many people who signed up for the lab couldn’t pass the interview. Even funnier would be Cisco implement this process in the state and have more people failed the interview then anywhere else in the world..

  44. nil says:

    I am agree with “NTllect says: in general, it is a good idea, but there is lots of caveats: 1) how clearlry measurement will be; 2) don’t forget, that not every succefull engineer is fluent english speaker;
    etc.

    Once again, human test is worthy of attention
    and
    40 Vinu sharma, Don – says: ”


    i would like to say one thing proctor is human and if his/her mode is not good at that time then the candidate will suffer :(

  45. [...] Cisco, Cisco Certification, Internetwork Expert, Network World Back in August of last year, Internetwork Expert posted an interesting email on their blog concerning the addition of a brief interview to the CCIE lab in Beijing, China.  I [...]

  46. [...] a verbal interview portion to its CCIE lab exams across the world. Cisco confirmed that it is running a pilot in its exam lab in Beijing, China that involves candidates taking a 10-minute verbal interview as [...]

  47. darby Weave says:

    Yes, the new interview questions are the least of a person’s problems.

    Wait till the candidates who prepared using topologies and configs they may or may not have memorized are no longer present on the lab at all.

    Unless of course they fail or are perceived to have failed the verbal portion of the lab.

    1. Real Candidates get the Real Labs

    2. Candidates who failed the verbal get the what the labs they expected to see aka the “memorizes labs”.

    I think its a total work of art.

    FYI – Cisco spent a good little penny about 6-7 months ago putting together a think-tank to make the late “memorization-proof”.
    The biggest problem presented was how to stop anyone from simply memorizing one or more portions of the lab exam.

    So…

    1. The Interview – Verbal.
    2. Give the cheaters what they expect to see – They already failed the lab anyway.
    3. Give the Real Candidates a Real Lab – They did not come with pre-conceived notions and so they will never know the difference in the first place.

    This means:

    1. The gunmen or people who try to pass by memorization will shake their heads wondering why they failed.
    2. The Real Lab Candidates will either pass or fail and will be none the wiser.
    3. The lab exam will maintain its integrity and standing as the premier un-cheatable certification exam in the entire I.T. industry and the value of the CCIE is maintained.

    I think it is pure genius.

  48. Except for the fact that the passes actually came at the end of October/beginning of November… And some more have come in December. :)

    And the fact that many little details of the lab were updated/fixed/changed in early December.

    And the fact that people are studying v4 materials and learning the v4 “mindset” from training (both self-paced and bootcamp) now….

    But I’m sure none of those could have lead to the passes. Must be dumps. ;)

    Post hoc ergo proptor hoc.

    Scott

  49. @Darby,

    To me it seems the braindumping issue mostly affects the “Configuration” section of the new exam. I was hoping they made the troublehsooting section tickets dynamically generated (thanks to the large topology and independent tickets). That’s a obvious idea to implement, but I dont know if Cisco really did that.

    Of course, we could only hope that the OEQ question pool is large enough to prevent memorizing from ever becoming issue. However, personally I think OEQs are the worst way to deal with the braindumpers, as they introduce really high chance of failing an “innocent” person.

  50. Then again, the opposite could be true. – I paid too much for it, but it’s worth it. – Samuel Goldwyn 1882 – 1974

  51. Darby Weaver says:

    Well the OEQ have come and gone for the CCIE RS and Voice.

    It’s still around for other tracks – not for long – I had to ask for it. I did. I got the answer this week. It’s under consideration.

    Now the $1000.00 CCIE Lab is on the table.

 

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