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5 IT Interview Tips for IT Candidates
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in interviewing IT candidates in my current role as a System Administrator. In my prior position as an IT Director at ACCENT Marketing, I performed a lot of IT interviews. I had standard questions, weighted skills rankings, technical tests, and over time I had created a process that worked well. However, I had not been involved with interviewing for several years so a few things kind of jumped out as recurring concerns on several interviews. Keep in mind, these are technical IT interviews for sysadmin positions, and here are a few tips related to my recent observations. These are tips I haven’t seen offered and you should also be aware of broader interview success strategies.
To me, the goal of a first interview (from the candidate’s perspective) is simply to get to a second interview. During this first interview, the employer is simply trying to weed out the candidates that don’t fit and stack rank those who do fit. The ones at the top of the stack ranking get follow up interviews. That’s the cold truth; deal with it.
- Have a clock in front of you, where you can watch it.
- You will see why below.
- Don’t talk too much. This isn’t performance art.
- Your interviewer (if they are prepared, and good) likely has a list of things they want to ask, and are trying to learn about your background, skills and experience. Pause when you are talking, so you can breathe, and so your interviewer can jump in and move on if they want. If your reply is longer than a minute (watch your clock), take a pause and see if the interviewer has additional questions ready.
- Example; you get a question like “what is your function in the Active Directory you manage?”. The question could be simply answered by saying “I’m a Enterprise Admin” or “I’m a Domain Admin” or “I manage specifically delegated OUs”. If the interviewer wants more information, he/she will ask. If your answer is 4 minutes about everything you do in AD, that’s probably too much.
- Real World Example; I recently conducted an interview where the candidate literally talked for 10 minutes after a simple question (16.6% of the interview). With a 60 minute time allotment, there is no way an interviewer can cover all they want to in this scenario.
- Don’t focus on your personal wants that don’t align with the Job Description (JD)
- If the JD describes the business needs as X, Y, and Z, and you are really interested in R, be cautious how much time you spend expanding on how much you like R. The interviewer likely has specific needs they are trying to fill, and these needs are likely reflected in the JD. They want someone who will love and excel at the core JD responsibilities.
- Example; interviewing for a Windows System Admin position, but you have interests in Linux as well. It’s OK to ask if there is any Linux exposure, but if they say no, drop it. You can use that information to decide if you want to continue to pursue the opportunity, but no need to try to convert the interviewer.
- Real World Example; I recently conducted an interview where the candidate expressed interest in the cool headline technologies; fill in the blank with cloud/openstack/docker/tintri/violin/big data/unicorns/spark/hadoop/openshift/containers/ Mesos/Swarm and was concerned if we offered any opportunity in those areas. The real answer was NO; we were looking for the core skills we put in the JD. This is OK as a simple question but when it took up 5 minutes (8.3%) of the interview time, it’s not useful. In this case, the questioning by the candidate when on long enough that I finally asked if he was still interested in the position.
- Don’t get hung up on single details that might impact your decision but shouldn’t hang up the interview.
- This is related to the above point; if you have specific things that impact your desire for the position, it’s fair to ask questions to gather information. Then, you can use this information to determine if you want to pursue the opportunity. However, there is no need to belabor the point if you are not hearing what you want to hear.
- Example; you really like HP laptops and don’t want to work on anything else. You can ask what type of laptops are used, and when they tell you Lenovo, then you have information you can use later to determine if you want to pursue the opportunity. There is no need to try to convert the interviewer by explaining all of the great reasons you have for preferring HP.
- Real World Example; A recent candidate wanted to know if the position came with a certain large enterprise company “subscription” or “account”. The real answer was NO, but the candidate continued to explain all of the benefits that could be expected if they had access to this enterprise vendor account. For reasons I can’t go into, the account mentioned was simply not available for the position mentioned, so the 10 minutes (16.6% of the interview) spent on this discussion was a waste of time.
- Pay attention to the verbal flow
- If your interviewer is consistently trying to interrupt, it means your answers are too long (or he/she is a jerk). If your interviewer has several followup questions after each of your replies, it means your answers are too short. Adjust accordingly.
- Bonus tip; that’s right 6 for the price of 5. Be prepared for the “three in one“. How this works; the interviewer asks three questions in one breath. They don’t use “tell me three things” that would be too obvious. It’s more like this, if they’re good; “Tell me how you use group policy to control user behavior, configure program settings, and support security requirements”. They care about your answers, of course. When I ask the “three in one” what I’m watching for is to see if you can remember the three items, and coherently walk down the three and offer responses without getting lost or forgetting something. Now, if you’re the type of person who takes 10 minutes per answer, you’re going to forget what the questions were, and end up in the ditch, metaphorically speaking. At that point, you’ll see the interviewer taking some notes.
I have given you five tips that should be relatively simple to incorporate into your interview strategy, and should greatly increase your chances of success. Success in this case is a second interview. Good luck, and please send me feedback if you find these tips useful, or if you have example where they helped you out.
*disclaimer; these are, of course, my personal opinions, based on nearly two decades of experience. They come with no guarantee or warranty. Free advice, freely given, worth whatever is does for you.
SHORT LINK TO THIS PAGE; http://tiny.cc/12pubs
- R2L *** http://r2lrestaurant.com/ *** 50 S. 16TH STREET 37TH FLOOR PHILADELPHIA, PA
- The Happy Rooster *** http://www.thehappyrooster.com/ *** 118 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA
- Ladder 15 *** http://www.ladder15philly.com/ *** 1528 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
- Good Dog Bar *** http://www.gooddogbar.com/ *** 224 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA
- Fado Irish Pub *** www.fadoirishpub.com/philadelphia *** 1500 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA
- Misconduct Tavern *** http://www.misconducttavern.com/ *** 1511 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA
- Black Sheep Pub *** http://www.theblacksheeppub.com/ *** 247 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA
- Finn McCool’s *** http://www.finnmccoolsphilly.com/ *** 118 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA
- Fergies *** http://www.fergies.com/ *** 1214 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
- Brü Craft & Wurst *** http://www.bruphilly.com/ *** 1316 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA
- Bar *** http://barphiladelphia.com/ *** 1309 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
- Time *** http://www.timerestaurant.net/ *** 1315 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
1TB of free Drive storage; This story is all over today; http://www.forbes.com/sites/lianeyvkoff/2015/11/16/google-gamifies-local-guides-to-boost-maps/
Instead of playing games with this process, someone there should step back and look at how this works from the customer’s perspective.
Google reviews still apparently has NO WAY to use a QR code to point customers directly to a review page. I have received two different confirmations of this from Google Support. In the past, this HAS been possible with Google Places, or straight links to a url. Now, this has all been broken with recent Google Business updates, and the push to the MAPS app. This is an incredible failure to support the local businesses, making it impossible to offer your customers a QR link where they can easily go straight to a review URL. QR codes have been around for over 20 years now, and various competitors (Yelp) DO offer this functionality, and it’s clearly time for Google to make this work consistently and reliable without forcing user to use an APP.
This is probably the biggest hurdle to adoption of Google Reviews and Google seems unaware or clueless about it. Google it; local business owners are frustrated by this gap, and looking for a solution.
In case anybody who matters at Google reads this, here is the problem statement; “As a business owner, I need a simple, quick, easy way to create a QR code that goes DIRECTLY to the review page (no additional clicks or links) and allows the user to post stars, and a review, WITHOUT any app, and on any platform (windows or mac pc, Android or Apple phone) or browser (Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc.)”.
Today the news came out that http://error.000webhost.com/ was hacked and 13,000,000 user’s information was released. This isn’t even the biggest breach. In order of size the Adobe breach was still the largest at 152,000,000. The site is now in “maintenance” mode for all, causing a lot of alarm with the user community.
The background of the issue, and the site’s reluctance to face the issue is outlined in numerous articles
online so I won’t go over that.
What I do want to show you is a site or two that can tell you IF your data was included in any of the recent hacks. You can find out quickly here; https://haveibeenpwned.com/
Random Study notes as I continue the path to more certs;
NOTE – do a post on all of the versions of CORE and how to enable / disable each – DONE
NOTE – review DISM
NOTE – review and maybe post on Core Configurator from Guy Teverovsky
IPAM – LinkedIN posted
Tip of the day; to change the IPAM provisioning method (like from manual to automatic) you have to UNINSTALL and REINSTALL. Per TechNet; “The choice of a provisioning method is permanent for the current installation of IPAM Server. To change the provisioning method, you must uninstall and reinstall IPAM Server.” https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/JJ878310.aspx
If you are accessing the IPAM server from a remote IPAM client, you must be a member of the WinRMRemoteWMIUsers group on the IPAM server, in addition to being a member of the appropriate local IPAM security group.
New-NetSwitchTeam – Creates a new teamed NIC
Water cooled server racks; APOLLO; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/high-performance-computing/apollo/apollo8000-product-portfolio.html
Video explanation of the APOLLO water cooled system; this is the Peregrine system they talked about that is being used to heat the sidewalks with excess heat from the datacenter; https://youtu.be/9Ih3R84Corg
The MACHINE; the HP Labs folks running this section were real genius types; http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/systems-research/themachine/
StoreVirtual VSA; virtual array storage and servers in single appliance; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/data-storage/storevirtual-vsa.html
HP Moonshot; lots of buzz, very flexible, and very dense; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/moonshot/#products
HP Vertica; SQL on Hadoop; http://www.vertica.com/hp-vertica-products/sqlonhadoop/
Hadoop with Cloudera or Hortonworks; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/high-performance-computing/hadoop.html
Helion; huge buzz about Helion the Cloud Infrastructure / Openstack offering; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/cloud/hphelion-openstack-overview.html, https://docs.hpcloud.com/helion/openstack/1.1/. Supports Chef, Puppet, etc., etc., etc.
Internet Giants; this was running, just kind of interesting; http://pennystocks.la/battle-of-internet-giants/