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Cisco Mulls Adding Verbal Interview To CCIE Exams

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the polygraphs-and-mind-melds-to-follow dept.

Networking 117

Julie188 writes "Here's a new idea to stop certification test-taking cheaters; Cisco is considering introducing 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 part of their lab exam. Cisco said that if the pilot is successful, the interview could be introduced as a requirement for CCIE Routing & Switching candidates worldwide. The company has been running the pilot since August."

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What about other certs? (3, Interesting)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407917)

I didn't know CCIE had issues with cheaters but maybe all cert exams are susceptible to it. I think if this works that maybe MS and other companies should take notice and think about using the idea for their own certs. Doing this could increase the value of the certs to companies and therefore to people who are thinking of taking them.

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408005)

I'd have a happier holiday if you weren't so PC about it by not acknowledging its existence by calling it "holiday".

Which "holiday" are you referring to? Kwanzaa? Hanukkah? Christmas?

Oh, sorry, were you not aware that there is more than one "holiday" that occurs this time of year? Or am I just being (sniff) "too pee see."

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408063)

kwanzaa isn't a holiday, retard.

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26412375)

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday [wikipedia.org] honoring African heritage, marked by participants lighting a kinara (candle holder).[1] It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year.

As an African American and Pan-African holiday [officialkw...ebsite.org] celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.

Kwanzaa is a non-religious African American holiday [history.com] which celebrates family, community, and culture.

kwanzaa isn't a holiday, retard [slashdot.org] .

Re:What about other certs? (2, Informative)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408081)

Which holiday is irrelevant. The whole point is to not lose a holidays identity because there is more than one during the same period. Maybe I am not PC?

For the record I couldn't care less. I find my self wondering more and more each year why I am celebrating a holiday of a religion I don't even follow. (kids) We need a return to the root of our holidays. Christmas was a pagan year end celebration. Easter was a pagan holiday celebrating fertility. It fell in the spring as winter ended and new life sprouted. The Christians usurped these holidays as representing their beliefs and their christ.

Maybe my name should be christ-sleigher.

Re:What about other certs? (0, Troll)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408167)

For the record I couldn't care less. I find my self wondering more and more each year why I am celebrating a holiday of a religion I don't even follow. (kids) We need a return to the root of our holidays. Christmas was a pagan year end celebration. Easter was a pagan holiday celebrating fertility. It fell in the spring as winter ended and new life sprouted. The Christians usurped these holidays as representing their beliefs and their christ.

I know at least 1 person who "celebrates" Christmas but not for the religious reasons which to me doesn't make any sense whatsoever but it does offend me. I guess to those people maybe Happy Holiday is just fine but to those who celebrate it for the right reasons it is offensive. Kwanzaa isn't a holiday and I can understand the Jewish people possibly being offended by most people saying Merry Christmas but most people celebrate Christmas compared to Hanukkah so the odds are in a person's favor of saying Merry Christmas to someone else and being correct. However the Jewish people have never complained; it is only the media and some corporations who are taking matters into their own hands to diminish Christmas with the excuse that others (point them out please.) are offended. Diversity is recognizing differences, not diminishing them to a common denominator by using Happy Holiday. Corporations and the media have no idea what diversity really is and therefore it is purely an excuse to remove recognition of Christmas.

People who don't celebrate anything can just ignore it all. Why should they care what it is called if they don't celebrate it anyway? They should be as offended with Happy Holiday as with Merry Christmas if they don't celebrate anything in the first place. Why should the Jews be offended with "Christmas tree" if they don't have a tree of their own in the first place? I don't hear anyone calling the Menorah a "candle holder" for fear it may offend Christians nor does anyone ever advertise to target Hanuakkah. I see Christmas commercials with trees and lights and presents but they never even mention Christmas. What is up with that? Purely an attempt to remove the idea of Christ to return it to original pagan traditions so they can still make money without acknowledging the Christian associations.

Re:What about other certs? (2, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408627)

So, essentially your reasoning is that it would be ludicrous for somebody to be offended by a simple, holiday-related sentiment offered in good spirit? Or at least, they shouldn't be nearly as offended by yours as you are by theirs?

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Troll)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409063)

So, essentially your reasoning is that it would be ludicrous for somebody to be offended by a simple, holiday-related sentiment offered in good spirit? Or at least, they shouldn't be nearly as offended by yours as you are by theirs?

Prove to me that "Happy Holiday" is so much better than "Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year". What is wrong with saying the name of the holiday to make it more personal? Why say anything at all if we aren't going to say the holiday name? You can be generic and non-personal by saying "Happy Holiday" but can you still say in good faith it is done in good spirit especially with the ulterior motive that they are doing it in a purposeful attempt to get around saying "Christmas"? How is that good spirit? What ever happened to the Christmas spirit? It has been lost, or maybe more appropriately, taken away by the PC crowd. Now we all celebrate winter solstice!! Yay!!! Bottom line is that no one has ever been reported of complaining about "Merry Christmas" to force so many corporations and the media (especialy the Associated Press in their articles) to change to "Happy Holidays" but many thousands or millions have complained to change things back. That's why Wal-Mart went back to mentioning "Christmas" in all their commercials. Maybe this non-religious viewpoint will help: If a company wants to make money off a holiday then they shouldn't so coward and try to be so politically correct to never say its name in their ads. Not acknowledging it by name but wanting to make 30-50% of your yearly revenue from it is hypocritical.

Re:What about other certs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26411945)

What is wrong with saying the name of the holiday to make it more personal?
Alrighty then.

Happy Hanukkah.

Re:What about other certs? (0, Offtopic)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409431)

Your logic reversal has confused me. I believe the idea is that *nobody* should be offended. I'm an agnostic atheist, but I still enjoy the 'holiday spirit' and it doesn't bother me when I'm wished a Merry Christmas, Happy Feast, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah, whatever the celebration is in whatever country I'm in. People go out of their way to be offended by things they shouldn't be, and that's the heart of the issue.

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Troll)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409641)

When someone wants money for a holiday they refuse to mention in their commercials then that offends me. It is hypocritical. There is no reason to diminish Christmas for the sake of making a feeble attempt at trying to recognize all the other things that could possibly be celebrated in the month of December. When people lie about the reason for *not* saying "Christmas" in their greetings and advertising is when I get offended because I know the real reason they are not saying "Christmas". You can't exactly recognize everything by not recognizing anything when you say "Happy Holidays".

Some people (especially school systems across the United States so I'll go with that example) use the excuse that they don't want to offend anyone by only saying "Merry Christmas" and removing all remnants of "Christmas" if it has anything to do with the school (e.g. kids now have a winter break not a Christmas break and winter plays now talk about global warming instead of Jesus around Christmas time). They do so without ever caring, or possibly intentionally knowing, that they are offending the people who celebrate Christmas. I guess it is not okay to offend the pagans who celebrate the solstice (or whatever they do) and who don't represent anything close to a sizable portion of the U.S. population but it is okay to offend Christians who make up a very large portion of the U.S. population. Using the 1st amendment in the case of the school systems for not mentioning Christmas (and by extension, Christ) is not even logical because celebrating the winter solstice is associated with the pagan religion. As long as it isn't the Christian religion it must be okay though.

If people would just admit the real reason for not mentioning Christmas I'd be happier but still offended. At least then they would finally stop being cowards and finally let their agendas be visible to everyone, including those who prefer to ignore bias against Christianity. People who are accused of being a conspiracy theorist would finally be vindicated. More people would probably fight it too which is why none of the organizations who are proponents of the bias are ever going to admit their true agendas.

Re:What about other certs? (1, Flamebait)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410115)

In re your first paragraph: I can only suppose you're a Christian. Would you actually be happier if they specifically invoked your lord Christ for the sole purpose of getting you to spend money on ... petty material frivolities? Seriously?

In re your second paragraph: The situation is not as symmetric as you make it seem. Hint: schools don't have solstice parties, and most students and faculty likely wouldn't even know what it was. That's just a strawman you pulled out of a hat.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Binary Blob (1076603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410305)

I'm not the slightest bit religious, but if someone says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hannukah" or "Happy Kwanzaa" or whatever to me, I take it as it just being friendly, as opposed to "imposing their religious beliefs" or somesuch crap. It's just a friendly sentiment, and people getting their tits all in a wringer over it seems to miss the whole point.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 5 years ago | (#26411537)

The only people I've *ever* seen get actually pissed off about this sort of stuff are Christians who can't seem to stand any diminishing of their cultural privileges and dominance. I've *never* experienced or even heard of someone of another faith respond with anything other than, for example, "Actually, I'm Jewish, so we'll be celebrating Hanukah."

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26412415)

This press release should go a long way towards smoothing these holiday sentiments out harmoniously...

Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Hanukkah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years.

While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hanukkah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, we''re told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Chrismukah, as the new holiday is being called.

Massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit. As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience.

Also, instead of translating to "A great miracle happened there," the message on the dreydl will be the more generic "Miraculous stuff happens." In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.

One of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher. All sides appeared happy about this.

A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Hanukkah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance. He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy Vey, All Ye Faithful."

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#26412449)

I know at least 1 person who "celebrates" Christmas but not for the religious reasons which to me doesn't make any sense whatsoever but it does offend me.

Wait, what? So because I am an atheist, if I wish you a Merry Christmas, that will offend you? Wow, people find all sorts of things to get offended about..

Re:What about other certs? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408171)

I'm tempted to agree with you. Problem is, I don't believe that symbols of fertility will help the crops grow, so Easter would be straight out whether going with the Christian meaning or the pagan meaning. My suggestion? Just ride along and enjoy the bunny.

It's the same with Christmas... I might not be filled with Jesus juice, but nor do I feel the need to worship the goddess of nature, the sun god, or the god of agriculture. So I just drink the nog and play Santa.

Maybe Festivus will still take off?

Re:What about other certs? (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408231)

It's already starting to take off commercially [wagnercompanies.com]

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409793)

It's already starting to take off commercially [wagnercompanies.com]

$40 plus S/H for a pole you could make yourself or find in a scrap yard with 10 minutes of effort. Gotta love the free market ;)

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408085)


Which "holiday" are you referring to? Kwanzaa? Hanukkah? Christmas?

Straight goods. For at least 15 years my uncle has been buying loads of shares of the parent company of KFC (currently "Yum!") just before Kwanzaa and dumping it shortly after. He makes a surprising amount of money just off that and it has never failed him.

Re:What about other certs? (-1, Offtopic)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408249)

Which "holiday" are you referring to? Kwanzaa? Hanukkah? Christmas? Oh, sorry, were you not aware that there is more than one "holiday" that occurs this time of year? Or am I just being (sniff) "too pee see."

Were you not aware we have holidays all year but for some reason it is only during Christmastime when people want to avoid saying one of the holiday names, namely "Christmas"? Why isn't there an attempt to be politically correct any other time of year? Some people may be offended by Martin Luther King Jr and his speech content but his birthday as a holiday is still referred to by name instead of being lumped in with New Year's or as a standalone generic holiday. Some people even celebrate Halloween like it is an official holiday when it is not and companies spend a lot of money on Halloween advertising and actually call it by name. But yet they can't call Christmas by its name. Why the obvious bias? If they *still* have Christmas-themed commercials what is so bad about saying "Chrismas" *during* the commercial? They want the money but don't want to acknowledge the Christian religion.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging all the holidays (Hanuakkah and Christmas) at the end of the year but you can't expect to acknowledge them by saying "Happy Holidays". I don't see any Hanuakkah commercials either so if they were being truly diverse instead of just having a bias against Christmas then we should be seeing Hanukkah commercials from all the companies who say "Happy Holidays". Best Buy is the only company I know of that had a commercial referencing Hanukkah last year. I don't know if they had a Christmas version or not though. The year before I know they made every attempt to avoid "Christmas" in their commercials despite wanting the money from it. Hypocritical at the least and offensive at worst.

Re:What about other certs? (2, Interesting)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408025)

To save costs that can be done over the phone. Some official line with video recording to prove that the person talking was the person taking test. Just in case of problems afterwards.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408101)

And what about his friend right off camera with a white board a marker and google?

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408211)

Are you aware they have video conferencing software? That seems more likely than a phone and video recorder. Sheesh.

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408625)

Skype, anyone?

Re:What about other certs? (2, Informative)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408163)

For me, cheating is using on the Cisco certs was using Dynamips [ipflow.utc.fr] (Cisco 7200 emulator) to load a Cisco IOS image from the pirate bay [thepiratebay.org] and studying for them from home, only touching the huge books for practice exams, etc.

Its great for just configuring one router, but college still played a huge role for testing a whole "virtual internet" of routers, since I lacked the funding for such a setup at the time (again, college being the keyword here). I'm due up for taking the exam again pretty soon, so I might have to dig out the images again.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

POTSandPANS (781918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408567)

Unless you consider buying 7200s to practice on cheating, I would say using dynamips is just another way to get some experience working with the ios. Downloading images on the other hand, is probably illegal. ;)

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26412117)

Given that cisco's whole schpiel is 'you're buying the license to the software, not the router', that is probably true.

Re:What about other certs? (2, Informative)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408279)

Microsoft has been doing this in a fashion for a little while. Look at the Microsoft Certified Master and Microsoft Certified Architect programs. The Master program is a real class that you take, complete with exams and simulations to take. The architect program typically has you appear in front of a peer review board to get your certification. They're great programs that I'm considering going through, but the price tags are a bit steep for both, and you need to clear some time/additional money to travel to Redmond (if you're not already there) for these certifications.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409689)

Links? I'd be interested in this.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Natales (182136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408303)

Apparently, it will become a trend for the high-end tier of technology certifications.
VMware [vmware.com] will also be adding it [vmware.com] the their VCDX [vmware.com] certification, but not to the "more common" VCP.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408329)

The verbal interview should be followed (or replaced) by a practical demonstration of proficiency in troubleshooting on Cisco equipment with induced malfunctions. Allow X amount of time for each exercise, then move on so the testee isn't disqualified by one question.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408583)

The CCIE lab exam that this interview is being added to is an 8-hour troubleshooting session on a network of real Cisco equipment.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

George Beech (870844) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409027)

The CCIE - which is what they are doing this for - already has a practical section. You have to go to Cisco's site and they setup a broken network that you need to fix. I believe it's a week long affair that is graded by cisco's experts.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408363)

Cheaters or not, there's definitely problems with lots of certs out there. It's too easy to get a cert by simply studying the training guide, and doing example test after example test in order to pass the exam, and still not know how to practially apply any of it when you actually have your cert. I've seen a few too many MCDBA who couldn't write a simple join query, or set up log shipping, to know that most certs, by themselves are pretty irrelevant.

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26412591)

Cheaters or not, there's definitely problems with lots of certs out there. It's too easy to get a cert by simply studying the training guide, and doing example test after example test in order to pass the exam, and still not know how to practically apply any of it when you actually have your cert.

100% agreed. I once took a Win2K server course from a woman who was a former schoolteacher in Las Vegas. She saw that there was a lot more money in IT, so she got an MCSE and/or MCT, then came to California, where she got a position in a community college.

She ws nothing but a single-minded test taker. She could as likely have gotten certified in nuclear engineering.

But she hadn't a nickel's worth of field or practical knowledge. There was a (ahem) language barrier. She would answer yes to contradictory questions.

It wasn't obvious, but she was doing mass distribution of (expensive) copyright materials. Apparently she was warned about this by the administration and said she'd stop. The final straw was when she used, for a final exam, some sheets that were clearly marked copyrighted. Someone left the room and came back with an administrator who collected the papers and escorted her out of the room.

I never did find out what grade I got, but a.) I was learning the material from the MS textbook and b.) I wasn't taking it for credit, just for entertainment.

OTOH, I had other teachers there who were tops.One was a particularly sharp troubleshooter. I learned a lot from him.

Re:What about other certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408435)

The idiot modders must be off work today and browsing slashdot. Why the hell is this a troll? If this turns out to be a good thing for Cisco it can be a good thing for other companies. You guys are complete idiots.

Re:What about other certs? (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408589)

Why is this modded troll? The idea that increasing the value of certs is a troll?

Re:What about other certs? (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410723)

I'd have a happier holiday if you weren't so PC about it by not acknowledging its existence by calling it "holiday".

I'd have a happier holiday if you assholes didn't say "merry christmas" to me twelve times a day, every day, during the month of December. I'm an agnostic, you insensitive clods!

Re:What about other certs? (2, Insightful)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 5 years ago | (#26411571)

No no, in the USA only white, straight male Christians are persecuted. You have no right to be offended.

How did they fudge the practical lab? (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407959)

I thought the lab had a verbal component, but apparently not. In any case, good idea.

Re:How did they fudge the practical lab? (5, Informative)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408093)

I thought the lab had a verbal component, but apparently not. In any case, good idea.

It isn't verbal, just not written. I don't know the exact details because I haven't taken it myself but I work with a CCIE. There is a troubleshooting lab that you must take which accompanies the written portion. This used to be setup such that you would setup the lab equipment for your personal test on day 1. Overnight they would screw it up and then the 2nd day you had to fix it. Now it is just one day and you don't set it up from the ground up (cabling, etc.) You have access to Cisco docs to do the lab but you are limited to 9 hours to do the lab portion. If you are spending all your time looking up some piece of info you won't come close to completing it and some of the tasks are cumulative. Read this [com.com] for more info. They changed the format back in 2001. I don't see how anyone could really cheat on this part since you have to know how to configure the devices but maybe this interview is supposed to aid with minimizing the cheaters on the written portion. If you are cheating there though then I'd think you would have to cheat on the lab and if you don't need to cheat on the lab that you wouldn't have to on the written but I assume Cisco is seeing some trends that indicate cheating in some way.

Re:How did they fudge the practical lab? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408139)

One of the problems that has started coming up in some places (ie Beijing) is people taking the test for one another, faking their identity. Also there are a lot of boot camps and crash courses out there now that could theoretically allow one to get just a tenuous enough grasp on the exact material to barely pass.

As a CCIE Voice who actually worked to earn it I applaud this move. I'm prepping for my R&S now and honestly this won't affect my prep work at all. If you know it thoroughly enough to pass the lab portion, a handful of questions shouldn't even phase you (unless you're just hanging by a thread after braindump/bootcamp type prep).

Cheers,

-J, #18858

Re:How did they fudge the practical lab? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408505)

It slices both ways... I guess it depends on what would be meant by a handful of questions.

If they wanted, they could probably find questions to ask that would exclude 95% of otherwise qualified candidates on a technicality, despite them acing labs, tests, and all with near-perfect scores.

i.e. Find the one minor point they missed on the test (if interviewer has access to their submitted exams) and ask lots of questions about whatever they missed, or on some question they spent lots of time on during the exam, or on some question they spent surprisingly little time on (I.e. maybe they think examinee got it right just by random guess, since the question was really hard and computer says they chose an answer within 2 seconds).

But it could also be good in defect probing. If say the question was answered incorrectly by accident, examinee knew the answer, but fat-fingered it or something such as that.

Or if the incorrect response actually surrounded a total lack of correct knowledge about something important...

I suppose if implemented properly, and not used to eliminate fairly qualified candidates, or for more than detecting anomolies, verbal questions would help bolster the quality of any cert. But it is a fundamental change...

Re:How did they fudge the practical lab? (1)

Question Mark (22135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409953)

There's *a lot* of stuff on the written that's not in the lab. Asking a couple of verbal questions about stuff candidates supposedly know from the written (but won't be tested on in the lab) seems worthwhile to me.

Also, it ensures that folks who have the highest-level Cisco certification (the PhD of networking) can coherently discuss their trade. At least when I took the CCIE, the first job offered after I passed was in Cisco's TAC - I would hate to call up a newly-minted CCIE there who *couldn't* answer verbal questions about the test material.

Cisco should be careful (4, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408023)

To avoid bias against people who don't speak English as their mother tongue.

Re:Cisco should be careful (2, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408065)

Well this sounds completely wrong but realistically the vast majority of the documentation is in english, just because it's a common language.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408189)

Its too bad everytime I call Linksys/Cisco (get ready for the irony), I get an Indian person I can't wholly comprehend. Not that I have anything against English-speaking people from India, but most of the time I can only understand two out of every five words they say, which is really bad for service calls.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408277)

I agree. In some instances I don't care but when you need exact information and a misunderstanding could lead to you screwing up then you want to be able to understand the person fully.

It's not really anyone's fault. They can't help where they were born or that I simply don't understand them well because I don't live around a lot of people with Indian accents.

It's not just Indians either. Some Scottish people can be a nightmare to understand over the phone and again it's simply down to what you're used to hearing.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408353)

Try Louisiana.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408675)

Try Louisiana.

No thanks. I've been there.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408665)

In some instances I don't care

If I'm calling a support line, pretty much by definition I care, because I've run into something I can't handle.

The real issue here has nothing to do with Indians, or Scotsmen, or anyone else with a particular accent or unfamiliarity with English. It has to do with American outfits wanting to squeeze every penny out of their operating expenses, and see overseas call centers as another way to do that. Take my cellular provider, for instance. They shipped all their phone support to India, have made matters so difficult that I can't even get an erroneous charge removed from my bill ... and then have the sublime guts to advertise "World Class Customer Service" on a billboard I pass on the way to work. I guess "World Class" means hiring people from other parts of the wold with whom your customers cannot effectively communicate.

Cheapass bastards. Matter of fact, I'm switching cellular carriers because of billing practices that either utterly incompetent or outright fraudulent. I don't much care which, but I'm tired of trying explain that "I did not, repeat NOT order your GPS locator service. Take it off the bill, please. Yes, off the bill. No, I don't want to order the service, I want it removed! What? Yes I know I already have the service, that's why I want it taken off my bill. Now, once you've done that you can reimburse me for the charges, and furthermore you billed me for a dozen movie downloads. WHAT?! I don't care if your computer says I ordered them because my phone doesn't do video! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Now, is it the fault of the poor Indian guy (you know, "Bob" or "Bill" or "Ted") on the other end? No ... it's the fault of the people who hired Bob and his friends. I mean, it's not as if the cell phone business is unprofitable, one assumes these outfits could afford to hire quality CS reps ... it's just that they choose not to.

So I'm switching providers. I hope the next one does better. I'd tell the rep why I'm cancelling my account ... but I doubt he'd understand me.

Re:Cisco should be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26409301)

It's not really anyone's fault. They can't help where they were born or that I simply don't understand them well because I don't live around a lot of people with Indian accents.

Belonging to the very large proportion of Slashdot users for which English is not their first language, I disagree with what you just said.

My English is not perfect. I am sure I make a lot of errors. Mostly minor, grammar related (putting words in wrong order as the sentences are formed differently in English and Finnish, etc.) when I write. I could study the grammar more but I have little motivation as my skills are enough for anything I need them to be (Getting my point through or reading English books, documentation, etc.). So I don't study that.

However, I have had to actually speak English very little and know that my pronouncing is just horrible. I know that to get better I need to practice. I practice a bit, try to speak to my foreign friends through Skype occasionally, have decided to get myself as exchange student to some Uni in the USA or UK before I finish my CS degree... And I know that if I do them, my pronouncing will be pretty good.

I have seen several people from India who speak very good English. They have strong accent by they can be very easily understood. As such we can determine that even people from there can learn good enough English if they practice enough.

Where does this bring us? People in India COULD very well fix the problem if they wanted to. But they don't want to because the businesses don't require them to speak well enough, as such the education isn't much directed towards good English skills, etc... And those people who actually speak proper English probably want higher wages than others so companies don't want to hire them. Apparently companies don't do much to further train their employees in this or tell them "You'll get higher wage if you learn to pronounce better" because companies just want to save in expenses.

So yeah, I think that it is companies' fault for choosing to go with the cheapest solution when they know that the result is worse. And it is fault of anyone who is bothered by that but still stays as their customer.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409883)

Where does this bring us? People in India COULD very well fix the problem if they wanted to. But they don't want to because the businesses don't require them to speak well enough, as such the education isn't much directed towards good English skills, etc... And those people who actually speak proper English probably want higher wages than others so companies don't want to hire them. Apparently companies don't do much to further train their employees in this or tell them "You'll get higher wage if you learn to pronounce better" because companies just want to save in expenses.

So yeah, I think that it is companies' fault for choosing to go with the cheapest solution when they know that the result is worse. And it is fault of anyone who is bothered by that but still stays as their customer.

This is exactly true. What a lot of people don't realize is that there are tiers of call center employees in India paid (and charging) commensurate with their grasp of proper pronunciation and accentation. There are people trained to speak non-accented American or British English. You just don't know it unless you know for certain who holds the call center contract for the company you're calling.

It is entirely the fault of the company outsourcing overseas for choosing to pay bottom-of-the-barrel prices for customer service work. When there are other options in the industry for better customer service, those who complain about it but stay because it's cheaper get what they pay for. Unfortunately, there are sometimes no better options in the industry, making voting with your wallet meaningless.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410189)

That's like saying Scottish people could learn to speak better English but they don't for whatever reason.

Why should they have to?

I agree the quality of English is related to how much a company wants to pay and in general companies don't want to pay anything.

I think rather than sending phone support jobs over to other countries and trying to convert everyone to speaking the same way, if companies want to make more money then build up economies in areas, like India, through other means. Like creating development offices there to create Indian tailored software. That is actually more beneficial because it gives everyone in the country something to use rather than just giving a few jobs answering phones.

Localisation even for the UK is pretty rubbish. The assumption is everyone should just learn to live with American English so companies don't have to put as much effort into doing things right.

They could also get international developers developing more international games so we're not stuck with the same old space marine / WWII shooters.

I don't object to the US sending jobs over seas as Americans don't know everything and it makes sense to use the brain power of everyone on this planet. But it should be beneficial to the consumer which is rarely is.

I agree customers should boycott it more but it is hard when everyone's doing the same thing. Leaving company A because of their foreign phone support and going to company B, who also has foreign phone support, won't necessarily achieve much.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408595)

That right there is why Cisco certifications are valuable to have; a company will pay you to be a guru for their networking equipment so they never have to call Bangalore about it.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

TaliesinWI (454205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410601)

I don't know if Cisco still does this but at one point you would get a plethora of accents not because of outsourcing but because they were bouncing your call to whatever call center was currently between 9 AM to 5 PM local time. So if you're in Chicago at 4 AM and you call the support line you're going to get someone in Australia. Basically allowed them to have only one shift of support spread out around the world rather than keeping a particular call center running 24/7.

Re:Cisco should be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408449)

Reading skill != writing skill != listening skill != speaking skill, friend.

And I did list those in that order on purpose, too - from easiest to most difficult. Try to learn a second language some day, and you'll understand.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408079)

If they already localize their material and written exams then holding a verbal interview in the candidate's native tongue shouldn't be a problem.

If the written portion is not already localized, however, then there's no more bias being introduced with verbal interviews carried out in English.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408107)

Sigh, PC gone amok. If they're working in IT then they'd better speak English fairly well. Most users have to type commands in English, most documentation is in English, a significant number of fora are in English. If you're not able to communicate reasonably well in English you're going to be at a serious disadvantage, one serious enough that the CCIE isn't likely to save your butt.

At some point people need to realize that there's a difference between ideal and what we've got, most civil rights legislation does have loopholes for times when the applicant can't do the job. And it's not because bigots managed to sneak it in, at some point the job needs to get done.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408273)

Have you ever been outside your country (I'm guessing USA)?
  Plenty of people can read and write English perfectly well; in fact plenty of people can read and write English *better* than the vast majority of English speakers (we don't confuse "their" and "they're", for one!). Yet *speaking* it is something else, and not required for most extra-company communication and documentation.

Re:Cisco should be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408351)

oh if your score wasn't' already at 0...

The grammar nazis can be especially vicious to those who correct another sentence with a poorly formed one of their own.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408361)

In all fairness, you can be a very bad speaker of English and still be able to read documentation and type commands just fine. Speaking in English is not equivalent to reading English. You may be able to read it just fine but still not be able to communicate effectively by speaking in English.

Most commands you type on CLI-based interfacse utilize English words, BUT you don't ever actually form complete English sentences.

English speaking countries aren't the only place that utilize software and hardware made by these companies.

Not all IT people need to be able to speak English well.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408111)

I heard about some cert tests give non-native English speakers extra time etc. Don't know how Cisco's going to handle this though.

Re:Cisco should be careful (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408127)

I guess this means we'll have to deal with a few less punjabs on the end of tech support lines. Oh well.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408135)

As opposed to Sonicwall's bias against people who DO speak English as their mother tongue?

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408215)

I'm sure, as a pilot in China assumes, that it's based on a common language of the testing area. It sounds more like a mini-interview, so you know the person isn't just memorizing / copying answers, a common form of "cheating".

As a Teaching Assistant at Georgia Tech, we often did one-on-one sessions with students, including 40% of their grade based on how well they answered questions instead of doing the assignment (which was often easily copied).

Sure it was more work, a bit subjective, but it was better on the whole. Even for 50% of the students, who didn't speak english as their native tongue.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408217)

If they don't do it now then I doubt the verbal part will change.

Besides most technical terms are probably in english and the "normal" words will probably be in the person's mother tongue so they have to know a little English to do the job properly.

Re:Cisco should be careful (4, Informative)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408253)

Requiring English in tech isn't a bias. It's almost a de facto standard.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

Foodie (980694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409085)

Even if you lived in a non English speaking country?

Re:Cisco should be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408255)

You can still worship Ganesha. He understands your gibberish...

Re:Cisco should be careful (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408291)

Why should they not? Seriously, most of the material is in English anyways, and most of the work-settings require that you handle those with English speaking customers etc anyways. It is the ugly, but de facto language of technology nowadays.

Re:Cisco should be careful (1)

POTSandPANS (781918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408709)

I could be wrong, but I think English is required for airline pilots. To me, this seems like cisco just wants to weed out the people who try to take the test after only taking a crash course.

I think you're doing it wrong.... (5, Funny)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408051)

Something tells me that they're doing it wrong [xkcd.com]

Engrish? (0, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408125)

But won't this weed out the non-English speaking, book-memorizing, cheap-working brown people that Corporate America loves so dearly?

Re:Engrish? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408289)

But won't this weed out the non-English speaking, book-memorizing, cheap-working brown people that Corporate America loves so dearly?

exactly. Additionally, raising the bar beyond basic competence restricts the market, allowing labor to dictate their own terms (think medical and law licenses).

If the corps have their say, it won't happen, but if it does the corps will fund anyone who does not speak english and wants to file a lawsuit demanding proctors interview them in their own language.

Re:Engrish? (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408501)

Additionally, raising the bar beyond basic competence restricts the market, allowing labor to dictate their own terms (think medical and law licenses).

And makes things many times more expensive than they would be in a normal market (think medical and law expenses).

Re:Engrish? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408581)

Additionally, raising the bar beyond basic competence restricts the market, allowing labor to dictate their own terms (think medical and law licenses).

And makes things many times more expensive than they would be in a normal market (think medical and law expenses).

No, it doesn't. If you want to know where the expenses for medicine come from, check the catalogues of pharma and medical supply companies and the premiums for malpractice insurance, all of which are inflated so far beyond reason as to be incomprehensible.

IT workers are often abused to the point of 80 hour work weeks, and can't even claim overtime thanks to huge corporate lobbyists. These same companies demand certs out the wazoo, all of which cost money and tons of time off the clock, and they should offer reasonable pay for them considering how critical IT is to their infrastructure.

Re:Engrish? (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408631)

No, it doesn't. If you want to know where the expenses for medicine come from, check the catalogues of pharma and medical supply companies and the premiums for malpractice insurance, all of which are inflated so far beyond reason as to be incomprehensible.

Is that why doctors and lawyers, when they graduate make more than most other graduates? Due to insurance companies?

Re:Engrish? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409669)

They make more than other graduates because they put in more work, because they have to pass a rigorous certification process, and because they have to pay back considerable education costs.

If you lower doctor salaries to the 35 some-odd thousand a year per capita income of the US nobody would ever become a doctor.

I might add, though, that IT workers have to know as much as doctors (on different subjects) and in most cases work on more sensitive timescales and have lower job security.

They should make as much as doctors, and not be subjected to 80 hour/week abuse.

People need to be paid based on the value they provide to society. Doctors are currently paid commensurate with this (with the exception of cosmetic surgeons), while IT professionals and childcare providers are not.

First question will eliminate 50% of applicants: (3, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408179)

"Be honest; don't you feel that most of your potential clients are egg-sucking rubes, who, instead of questioning your judgment, should be kissing your feet for merely showing up?"

"Please elaborate."

Re:First question will eliminate 50% of applicants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408475)

"Be honest; don't you feel that most of your potential clients are egg-sucking rubes, who, instead of questioning your judgment, should be kissing your feet for merely showing up?"
"Please elaborate."

Yes... although D-Link, SMC, and consumer Linksys/Cisco models are just fine for 90% of everyone's network needs. I say, YEAH! You must have a $500 Cisco 871 router for your DSL connection. Oh, you want redundancy...then you MUST buy a Cisco 1811 for $1000 and a yearly Smartnet contract. YEAH!

Like the GRE... (2, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408283)

...it could at least have essay questions that real people read. You can't bullshit a bullshitter.

Re:Like the GRE... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408485)

You can't bullshit a bullshitter.

You're lying.

Re:Like the GRE... (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410833)

On the contrary, bullshitting is necessary to get a high score on that part of the GRE.

What i'd like to know (4, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408377)

is why the hell they don't let you use a calculator. My conversation with my (now utterly uncertified) instructor went about like this:

"In real life you won't always have a calculator"
"BS, we're working ON COMPUTERS"
"Well what if the batteries die?"
"Solar power, spare batteries, or I could use one of MY computers"
"And what if the power is out then, smart guy?"
"Well I guess I won't have very much to do if that happens while I'm working dialed into a router then, will I?"

Re:What i'd like to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408893)

In real life job interviews, you don't have a computer or calculator.

Re:What i'd like to know (1)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409175)

If you were in the line of work where they ask you to do math during a job interview, I highly doubt they would care if you pulled a calculator out of your pocket. What kind of lame job requires you to answer math questions during the interview anyways?

Re:What i'd like to know (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409727)

I worked with a man who liked to ask 'what's the first derivative of y=1/x' during job interviews.

I wasn't that it caught flat out resume fabricators, though it did that as well.

It caught people who scraped by their basic math and then never used it again (who he specifically didn't want).

Re:What i'd like to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26410393)

is why the hell they don't let you use a calculator.

It's very easy: there are some very complex calculators that can do lots of things, and hold all sorts of information. Difficult to prevent cheating.

My brother, an actuary, was issued an official basic calculator during his actuary exams. That way the testers know everyone is on an even footing.

Who cares if CCIEs are good conversationalists? (1)

slashjunkie (800216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408393)

When the network is broken, and you're paying a CCIE $200/hour to fix it, are you really going to stand around and ask them how their weekend was?

Re:Who cares if CCIEs are good conversationalists? (3, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408515)

I have a feeling that the primary purpose for CCIE is not their ability to fix a network. After all, it should be a rare occurrence that the network needs fixing.

No - I think that ability to fix a network is low on the list, which is, to my mind, led by...

1) Generating sales and generally advocating for Cisco

2) Bolstering a companies IT credibility when bidding for business

3) raising the bar to exclude cheaper competitors by making access to certified staff a mandatory part of a bid.

4) Allow board level execs to think the've "done the right thing" by hiring certifed staff who fit the bill.

In these functions, the ability to fit the mental image of what a technical professional should look like seems to me to be a very strong factor and I think there's a real danger that Cisco will make the CCIE a screentest for the role.

Re:Who cares if CCIEs are good conversationalists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26408701)

If I had any mod points left I'd mod you insightful.

Anyone who gets one of these certs has gone through so much training in 1 product type that they're going to recommend that over everything else? Netgear? Nope, let's go with Cisco because I'm certified in that and I don't want to learn a new system. Red Hat? Nope, I'm Microsoft Certified (or the reverse for Red Hat engineers).

Basically:
1) You pay for (and pass) certification from company X
2) You join business Y
3) Knowing almost exclusively about X's products you buy from them
4) Business Y keeps buying from X because they can't switch vendors suddenly
5) Business Y hires more people who did step 1.

Cycle repeats and company X profits.

Oral exam ? (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408513)

I think Cisco has every right to give oral to their testees.

Re:Oral exam ? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408699)

I think Cisco has every right to give oral to their testees.

Yes, and the ones that don't make it become testee culls.

Re:Oral exam ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26411445)

As long as the girl is hot, m'kay?

This won't stop cheating... (2, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408531)

People cheat on the lab portion of the CCIE by sending in people to memorize the lab topology and various questions. Then afterward they report back to other with the topology, features etc... It's no different than memorizing the written questions except while there are hundreds of written questions that can be selected for your exam, there's probably only a dozen or so different lab exams.

I do like how VMWares forthcoming VCDX exam will have a verbal component. Similar to how one has to verbally defend their PhD thesis. I for one would like candidates to be able to explain why they made a certain decision or the benefits of going with one design over another. Rather than just seeing how quickly you can configure up the features or memorize test questions.

CCIE #20847

Re:This won't stop cheating... (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409553)

I don't see how this is any different from getting material for training from Internetworkexpert and the bootcamp trainers. It's pretty darn well known set-up :)

CCIE #20962.

Anyway, there are about sixteen different lab exams of varying difficulty.

Its just a small component (1)

PacketU (1315113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408641)

A ten minute verbal component, is just a very small factor for this exam. I'm not sure why it is even getting any press. I personally would have liked to seen it structured differently. Instead of the verbal component being one of the first things (as I understand it), I think it should be the last thing. It could be used to gauge the response of some predetermined questions. It could also be used to get a feel for why the candidate done activity x the way they did. It could even be used as the deciding factor for points on a particular topic if it is achieved in an unorthodox way. If you can pass the CCIE lab, the interview isn't going to be an obstacle. I am a CCIE Security Candidate and the Lab is the real obstacle. I'm not too concerned if they do implement an interview (formerly or informally for that matter).

Re:Its just a small component (1)

sjhwilkes (202568) | more than 5 years ago | (#26411047)

It has to be one of the first things because they want to use it to weed out the test memorizing people paid to take the lab by the companies that then sell lab cheat sheets/ non-honest classes. It's only another hoop for those people to jump through but it may make a dent for a time.

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