[nSLUG] Interview questions

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Mon Oct 22 16:10:07 ADT 2007

Hi Everybody

I like Ian's approach. I once had to conduct a few interviews on behalf 
of the organization doing the hiring. The two applicants I remember most 
were both recent Master's degree grad's. I asked them to outline their 
thesis work, something I knew nothing about in either case. One guy gave 
a good overview of his subject and the other went into a lot of details 
that meant little to me. I figured that the guy who gave the good 
overview *had* a good overview of his subject whereas the other guy did 
not, and *would have a lot harder time solving problems*.

It's not just the details of the answers given, it's the *approach* to 
answering the questions that can be very important. I like general 
questions that give a lot of scope for answering. Asking something that 
the candidate knows well (or at least *should* know well) should put 
him/her at ease, and put you in a better position to detect his/her 
enthusiasm, commitment, etc (or lack of them), personality, 
communications/interpersonal skills, ability to grow into the job and 
into a more advanced position. If a lack of detail is given in an answer 
you can follow up to see what depth of technical knowledge is there.

My opinions only.


> On Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 01:39:53PM -0300, Bill Davidson wrote:
>> What question could you be asked (or would you ask of another), the answer to
>> which would summarize all the best qualities of a really good sysadmin?

Ian Campbell wrote:
> Good questions:
> - Can you tell me about a project you're particularly proud of, did
>   particularly well, etc. Ask questions to whatever level of detail
>   you want.
> - I have a mixed network of Linux and Windows machines. How would you
>   back them up? I have a website setup, what would you do to improve
>   performance?
> All of those are pretty open-ended questions, but they let the
> candidate demonstrate how deep their knowledge of a subject area is,
> their competence, and their communication abilities. If they don't
> know the answer to a question, ask them where they'd go from there.
> Get them talking and it will both put them at ease and likely make it
> pretty easy to judge how good they are.

Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6

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