CCIE Pursuit Blog

January 11, 2009

NetworkWorld: CCIE Lab Interview Pilot

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 posted my take on the issue here.  There was never any verfication as to whether this was ever implemented (this could have been a fake email) or not. 

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.

Cisco Subnet recently spoke with Cisco about the issue and it turns out that this was a legitimate email:

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.

Fred Weiller, director of marketing at Learning@Cisco said the pilot is another method to assess a candidate’s skills level and to “guage if the candidate has the verbal ability to explain and answer technical questions and interface with others on problems,” he said.

He added that good verbal skills would help CCIEs get better support from Cisco TACs, particularly since CCIEs are granted special access to Cisco support personnel.

Any effects of the pilot on cheating is secondary, he said.

Weiller added that the pilot was introduced in China because of the high level of demand for the CCIE exam in that country which gives Cisco a big sample base for the pilot.

I find it odd that Cisco would roll out a pilot which affects the final score only in China.  The “big sample base” seems like a canard, because your sample base is only going to be as big as the number of candidates that can be tested in the Beijing location.  Unless that testing center has many more seats then I don’t see how this makes sense.  The US has two testing centers so I would think that you would have a bigger base here.  But that’s just my speculation….based on ignorance.  🙂

The interview aspect doesn’t concern me much except that it’s not explained how the interview will affect your lab score.  I have to assume that you can only lose points in the process.   At least on the lab you know the point value for the tasks.  How many points can be lost (gained?) via the interview?

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