Elon Musk always asks the same unusual interview questions that can catch out liars

“My interview questions are always the same,” he confessed, adding: “I say tell me the story of your life and the decisions you made along the way and why you made them.”

He continued: “Also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you’ve worked on and how you solved them.”

This got me thinking about previous issues I have had to fix within Computer Support. The hardest issue I had to fix, was also the most stressful, happened many years ago. We serviced the IT for a large book company based in Bath, near Bristol. We had supplied the HP server, installed fully with Windows Server, installed Exchange Server for email. This server was connected to users in the US, Hong Kong and Europe. It had been working for sometime without issue.

It went wrong! Badly. The server had an array of harddrives, and could handle a disk failure. Two disks failed, and the server would not boot. The company had no email.

We fired down the server, added the new hard drives, re-launched it, and tried to restore all the data using the backup software. No go. The tapes were mis-firing, so we had to go back to a set that worked. Every time we tried to restore, it would takes several hours, and would often fail near the end. All day, into the evening, through the night!

Finally we got a backup set to install and yet, even after success, the server would not start! At 3:00am, it is not a good feeling.

Not giving up, I looked at the issue, searched some information about booting servers…and then had an idea based on what I had read. The restored boot.ini was expecting to see the HP partition, as well as the windows partitions. There was no HP partition, as when we restored, we only had the media supplied from HP. HP had pre-installed it in the factory.

So I booted it into some kind of safemode and edited the boot.ini file, changing the boot order, and finally we had the server and running!

What are the most difficult problems you have worked on?

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