65 Replies Latest reply on Feb 11, 2014 11:26 AM by Lenny Bucholz

    Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring

    Charles Culp

      Does anyone else do actual SolidWorks testing during interviews?

       

      We have started doing this recently, and I have had surprising results. I used a simple prismatic part from an early CSWP exam, to see how close users can come to creating the part. The candidate has 30 minutes to build the part. Of all the interviews I've given, no one has come close to getting it correct. Some never claimed to be good at SolidWorks (we typically hire on engineering skill first, CAD second), but today we are hiring a consultant who needs to be able to walk on and be proficient.

       

      Is it interview stress, or do people really inflate their resumes that much? I gave the part to a coworker that I would consider well versed in SolidWorks (a good candidate to take the CSWE), and he completed it in 20 minutes, perfectly.

       

      What are your interview experiences?

        • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
          Roland Schwarz

          I got to design one test.  I made a mock ECN the candidate would execute from a markup paper drawing.  A passing grade required that the candidate only edit existing features, and not add or remove features.

           

          I've taken a few tests.  Never had trouble.

          • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
            J. Mather

            I think I have a pretty good estimate that only 10% of "users" know how to use the tool.

            • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
              Lenny Bucholz

              Charles,

               

              Here is the big issue I see, and I quite a bit here at school and night classes at the community college for people in industry.

              It is not the software that slows them down it is they don't know how to go about building for the drawings given.

               

              a lot of people in industry have had the time to decifer the drawing before they have 30 minutes to get-er-done lets say, so they jump in and paint themselves into a corner to quick. I always tell my students to first look, then see the best shape, take a piece of paper and do a quick sketch to get the idea, then mimic in SW, via revolve, extrude  and that cuts, holes and fillets are the last things to add.

               

              so these people might not have had the best instruction on the best approach to modeling a part, doesn't mean they aren't any good with the program, just don't have the tools on how to do it...big difference.

               

              what you may have to do is ask them after they finished it is, what do you think the part was for, how they thought it should be modeled and how they were taught.

               

              also give them 15 minutes before they start the modeling to look over the part to get their head around it first. I can tell you out of the 30 some students in class, 2 or 3 may see it the way I think it should be made.

               

              along time ago, in a place that is colder that a deep freeze, we had a lecture on how people see  a 3 view drawing,, here's how it went.

               

              out of 10 people, 3 can see how the part looks in their minds eye, but only 1 of the 3 can turn it into a physical 3D model, that was 1984\85, worse today cause there are no more SHOP CLASSES IN HIGH SCHOOL!!

               

              ok done ranting but have see it first hand.

              • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                Josh Brady

                We aren't allowed to do any testing, because we are racist/sexist/ageist/etc and incapable of creating a test that isn't biased against some underrepresented group.

                 

                At least that's what the plaintiff's lawyers would say.  12 years ago I was the last guy in our division who had to take the hiring test for the division before HR said it was verboten.  Apparently, it costs a lot of money to certify that a test is not discriminatory.  It costs even more to get sued for hiring discrimination, whether or not your test is finally proven to actually discriminate.

                 

                That said, the forbidden test involved problem solving and a lot of 3D to 2D and 2D to 3D, although all on paper.  I would tend to agree with Lenny on the 3D reasoning, in that you can teach software easier than you can teach someone to think. 

                • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                  Jeff Holliday

                  Based on the answers provided here, I would say that giving a test is a great idea! I understand and agree with all of the responses given which is why I would agree that giving a test is a great idea to quickly weed-thru the applicants. If you truly need someone who can respond with a prompt and accurate answer, then there is no need to "dumb-down" the test.

                  • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                    Brian wilson

                    Hey Charles,

                    Would it be possible to post the test on this thread? Just curious!

                    Brian

                    • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                      Deepak Gupta

                      We used to have a test that comprises of two things:

                       

                      1 Written exam with Multiple answer, True-False, Fill in the blank type of questions. This would give an idea if the candidate has used the software to a good extent and can troubleshoot if required sometimes.

                       

                      2 Hands on exam having a assembly/part and a drawing.

                       

                      P.S. If you need I can search for those written exam questions and send your way.

                      • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                        Chris Michalski

                        Many moons ago in college I took a hiring test  for an ACAD drafting position.  Maybe 20-30 questions (locate missing/conflicating dimensions, isometric view pick the most accurate ortho views, command recognition, etc).  Then a 30 minute drawing creation.

                         

                        Things are different now that everything is solid models instead of 2D prints, but having TA'd a class in CAD and knowing how easy it is to verify a model/drawing I'd be inclined to stick to a 2-part test.  Questions to see if they know what they are doing, and CAD to see if they know how to make the software do it faster. 

                         

                        And being a straight shooting engineer I'd be inclined to make them separate: if you pass the knowledge test then you get invited to take the hands-on test.  Have someone else grade the test while you give them a tour and let HR grill them and then administer the CAD test if they're a still valid candidate.

                        • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                          Mike Pogue

                          To play devil's advocate: the part is very poorly dimensioned. The low-res hidden lines made my head hurt. The instructions weren't clear to me until I read the grading criteria—would I have access to the grading criteria before I started this? I couldn't find the depth of the pockets between the spokes. Detail C seems not to show anything except a double dimension (crap! Why did they put that there, what am I missing?!?!!). Yeah, I could easily turn this out in 10-20 minutes, but it’s also easy to see how I could become my own worst enemy if my livelihood depended on this and I was afraid to ask questions because I knew nothing about the mindset of the interviewer.

                          • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                            John Burrill

                            I've taken a few CAD tests for prospective employers and I've helped review the results of a few, and all-told, they're not good for more than screening out the wishful thinkers-the ones that try to bluff that logo they made in Photoshop as design experience.

                            If a simple part takes one person an hour and another 20 minutes, you don't know that the second person used their time better than the first because you probably don't design  bushings and spacers, but rather complex equipment that requires creative problem solving at several levels and you can't stopwatch creativity.  Maybe the first guy took and hour because he optimized the design for rebuild time, or modularized it for re-use or just didn't learn the canned methods of interpreting pristine design requirements and parameters taught in the SolidWorks Essentials class.  And I have twice worked with designers that were blazing quick getting the model from the jaws of the callipers onto the screen, but the geometry they produced required an excruciating ammount of rework.

                            I like having a practical excercise for a candidate for a couple of purposes.

                            First, it's hard to build a portfolio when companies take a slate-refusal approach to letting employees showcase work they've done there, so giving an interviewee a practical exercize to complete, can serve as a basis for discussion about projects they've worked on the types of techniques employed.  My current boss gave me a quick modeling test and I didn't finish modeling the part, but I used a variable radius fillet where he would have used a sweep cut and a great conversation about ID grew out of that.
                            You can also find out some work habits about the person by seeing how they handle unfamiliar situations  I'd take it as a bad sign that someone struggles in silence, get's frustrated and sits there stuck because they're afraid to ask for advice.  I take it as an equally bad sign when someone can't make any headway without me spoonfeeding them.  Finally, if they're treating a CAD test like a drug test, I tend to think, they'd rather be doing something else..

                            I think the big problem with CAD tests is the time limit because it turns designinto a rush to get  geometry instead of creative problem solving.  I get t6he practical reason for it.  YOu don't have 4 hours per candidate, but given that the SolidWorks World MOdel Mania exercize bears little resemblance to good product design practices, I don't think jobs should be awarded like athletic trophies.

                            • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                              Andi H

                              Its not the fault of the people its the schools where they are graduating from. I gave an interview once with a senior mechanical engineer, he called some of the engineers who had been working there for 30 years he showed them some of my models they were scratching their heads. It really depends on the individual and the school. My school taught nothing in SW some studens studied the sw themselves were able to draft up cars in SW others couldnt draft simple parts.

                              • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                Adrian Velazquez

                                We do have a couple of test for SheetMetal and Weldments. Nothing crazy just testing basic proficiency, ability to follow direction and ability to model with design intent.

                                 

                                We do not have a time constrain though!

                                • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                  Jerry Steiger

                                  Charles,

                                   

                                  Good question, great discussion.

                                   

                                  Personally, I don't care whether an engineer has good SW skills, so I would never test him on them. Engineering, design and team skills are much more important and much harder to pick up.

                                   

                                  Jerry S.

                                    • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                      Chris Michalski

                                      I agree, this is a great thread. 

                                      For me, testing the SW skills depends what they'll be doing and their experience.  If someone says they have 7 years experience and a call to their former HR agrees then accept it and move on to other skills.  If they are fresh out of school or will be using SW 80%+ of the time then I'd go with a more intensive test.

                                      For example: Give them that part Charles showed but with 8 cavities and no equations.  Tell them you need to revise the part to have a version with 10 cavities and see how they handle that.

                                      Have them change an in-context part in an assembly knowing it will fail if they do exactly what you ask.  And then wait for them to seek help and interact.  Can they think of an alternate path to the same solution?  Are they willing to acknkowledge the problem and seek advice?  Or do they sit and waste time hoping for a miracle?

                                       

                                      In the end, it is easier to teach an engineer to use SW than teach a SW user to be an engineer.  IMHO one is a skill, the other is a personality.

                                    • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                      Andi H

                                      So let me ask you guys this what comes first Experiece or Skill?

                                      • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                        Bryan Ray

                                        I will chime in from the University side.  I teach CGT110 and MET102 at Purdue College of Technology in New Albany, IN.  Consider this Drafting 1 and 2 for explanation purposes.  We focus on SolidWorks for these two classes, mainly for ease of use and there are several industries in our area tha use SW.  We are not educating draftsmen, we are educating engineers.  Main campus offers on the order of 10 different engineering software packages.  We can't possibly make every student proficient in every package.  If you were hiring an Engineer, you should focus on his ability to understand the concepts required for designing a competent product.  He can work with a competent Designer to do the modeling/drafting.  The first engineer I worked as a designer for, could not find the print button in SW, let alone draw a circle, but that did not stop him from designing half of the products in the company's catalog.

                                          • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                            J. Mather

                                            Bryan Ray wrote:

                                             

                                            .... We are not educating draftsmen, we are educating engineers.  ...

                                            SolidWorks is a full engineering tool.

                                            We have an opening for a full time faculty member.

                                            I would love to find someone who can use this professional engineering tool (or any of the competing engineering products), but most couldn't even complete the simple test above, let alone understand building in design intent, DFM, FEA, Mechanical Event Simulation.... ... and yes, 2D detail part and assembly drawings.

                                              • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                Bryan Ray

                                                The test Charles gives is a test of modeling skills.  I understand he needs someone that can model and SW use is a requirement for his particular needs, so my statements obviously don't apply to his issues.

                                                 

                                                I have first year students that could model a fluid power system, but I would not trust them to spec the pumps for it.

                                                 

                                                My comment was more in defense to Andi's comment, and I should have attached it there.  It is not the university's duty to teach every engineer to use SW.  If it were, ProE and AutoDesk would have been out of business years ago.

                                                 

                                                Bryan

                                            • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                              Charles Culp

                                              Not that my opinion carries any special weight just because I started this thread, but here is our experience:

                                               

                                              Last year we hired three engineers, out of about fifteen. Zero of them completed the test, yet we did hire three of them. Two of them were "fresh out of school" and had limited CAD experience. I sit in with them while they try and complete the test, and I tell them at the beginning that I don't expect them to finish. I am more interested in how they approach modeling. The third candidate we did hire explained how much SolidWorks experience she had, and showed great technique despite not making it very far. So no, it is not a race.

                                               

                                              That being said, currently we are hiring for a (6 month?) temp position as we work in a large project. We are looking for someone to come in and help with some of the engineering and CAD modeling. For this job, we don't have time to train someone. We expect them to have CAD experience, and they need to be productive from the beginning. Yes, for our current opening I expect someone to finish this model, and our interview process only allows 30 minutes. Perhaps if they made it most of the way, but not quite completed, I would still consider them a good modeler. Regardless, I expect most SolidWorks best practices to be followed.

                                                • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                  Jeff Holliday

                                                  I see nothing wrong with your expectations - they are providing a service to you, not the other way around.

                                                   

                                                  Good luck in your search - it will be real scary if it takes too long!

                                                  • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                    Adrian Velazquez

                                                    I think this is the perfect scenario to look at Certifications, shouldn't hiring a CSWE or CSWP+other Certs take care of the proficiency concerns?

                                                    • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                      Paul Marsman

                                                      One thing I would keep in mind as you administer the timed version of the test would be how much a person get's used to their workstation setup.  I consider myself to be proficient in SolidWorks, but if I could complete the plate there in 30 minutes on my workstation, it could very well take me 45 on an out of the box install.   Things like where buttons are, keyboard shortcuts, 3D mouse, shortcut bar, etc can all slow a person down if they aren't used to it.  I hate going to someone elses station to help with something and do a whole lot of hunt and peck for buttons that I have as keyboard shortcuts and other things like that.  Just a thought.

                                                        • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                          Adrian Velazquez

                                                          Agree, that's why we don't have a time constrain on our tests. But they do get extra points for finishing faster...

                                                          • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                            Jeff Holliday

                                                            That is a valid concern which could be eased by giving a period of time to get familiar with the system before giving them the assignment. Allowing them to modify/move UI-type things before starting would also show their familiarity with SW. Someone with a decent "grip" on using it may also show up with "copy-settings" on a flash drive. If I were asked about that, it would be an initial clue telling me that the person being interviewed may have some experience.

                                                            • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                              Joe Kuzich

                                                              That's a great point.  I have taken a couple tests for AutoCAD or AutoCAD Architecture and run into this a couple times.  Typically just minor things that take a short while to get used to the feel of.  Here is the worst one I had and I assume no one else would do this, but I still find it a little amusing so I'll share. 

                                                               

                                                              They sat me down at a rickety little desk, I believe it was held together with bubble gum.  The keyboard was in one of those tiny little keyboard trays and there was about a roughly a couple inch area next to it for the mouse (which was set really slow).  Now the guy who sat there was shorter thin gentleman.  I am 6'-2" and wider than I should be.  I tried sitting there and could not even get my knees under the desk without being in weird semi-crossed leg position.  Then it felt like I had to keep lifting the mouse up over and over just to get from one side of the screed to the other.  The guy started freaking out when I went to change the mouse speed since that's what he was used to.  He also wouldn't allow me to move the clutter on his desk to move the keyboard/mouse up.  Or reset the layout to vanilla since he had tools all over the place.  And he was about 2" off my shoulder the whole time.  I ended up thanking him for his time and telling him I didn't see this as being a good fit for both of us.

                                                               

                                                              Another one that went a little wild the tester/interviewer gave me a hard copy drawing and a partially completed CAD drawing.  He told me to make the second like the first and put everything on the right layers and handed me a piece of paper with what items went on what layers.  He came back a short while later perplexed why I wasn't done.  I explained that I added all of the missing stuff on the right layers quickly.  And that I was still correcting the layers of what was existing, but that I was almost done.  He opened a fresh copy of their test to find out that it was drawn wrong.  All the existing stuff should not have been on the wrong layers.  Guys at the surrounding cubes must have heard because I heard one taking a pretty good ribbing about it.

                                                          • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                            Jeff Mirisola

                                                            I've given tests after having been burned by new hires who didn't actually know all that they said they did. If using SolidWorks is a major portion of their position, then I think it's imperative that you test and that they perform well.

                                                            • Re: Expectation of SW Proficiency when Hiring
                                                              Do Brach

                                                              I've taken a test before at Lytron (company make Heatsinks), haven't use Solidworks in a while and their workstation kept freezing and have 20  minutes to make a model. I didn't finish--then one of the Engineer asked me if I have a college degree-- said yes and then passed me to another guy. He ends showing me around the manufacturing floor, the white dude spoke perfect Khmer, we connected.

                                                               

                                                              Well, I didn't get hired because another guy had an internal referral. The most important thing in getting a job is, in addition to what you know--it's who you know that count most.

                                                               

                                                              I think the reason I didn't get the model finish is--1) stress 2) haven't use Solidworks in awhile