In this part of our ‘Interviewing’ series we’ll look at the non-technical part of the dialogue between the potential employee and employer. As Aram did for the technical part I will also look from the interviewer side. The purpose is to probe candidate’s business attitude.
Needless to say that job interview is a trade talk when both parties want to sell for the highest and buy for the lowest price so both should prepare well to unveil the most for their future benefit. The price doesn’t necessarily mean financial figures and perk, the package includes the overall feeling from a long term cooperation, being and working together in abundant ways … working time makes up one third of our lives so we should enjoy it. Mutually.
Not only should you prepare your appearance for the interview itself but the materials you send in advance too. These should be tailored to the type of company, location and also your expectation in what environment you want to work. There are huge differences in culture, management system, expectations, opportunities, breadth of work etc. depending on the:
- size of the company: small; medium; enterprise
- status: national; geography-wide; world-wide
- culture of origin: what historical culture drives the company
- stage: startup grasping a market segment; established in the market; niche player
- industrial segment: retail; B2B; regulated industry; government
- demand for creativity: need to come up with new crazy ideas; respect to traditional business processes
Prepare for the particular company and make your materials aligned with the expectations – e.g a CV and motivation letter prepared for a local company in India may work extremely well but not so well if it’s send to a company originated in Germany.
State your skills and experience well but not to make an impression you hold the highest level of certifications spanning 4 technical areas and 17 product lines, in your 24 years of age. This may only mean you are either a genius or your experience is perfunctory in majority of those. However, both may work well if well targeted.
A good preparation may significantly increase your chance for being shortlisted.
Regardless the level of support you apply to your future employer must recognize your value for them. Either you’ll become a good team member or you are to come to help resolve issues they haven’t been able to on their own – you are expected to be a leader.
Question: Tell me about your mode of operation in your recent assignment, your daily duties. What did you do? How did you do that?
This is to make you speak freely and describe what your most recent working experience is. This will delimit the areas of further questions.
Question: What kind of projects have you been working on? What was your role in the project team?
Matching the ideal role in a team is very important indicator for a long term sustainability of the cooperation. If the role you played in the recent assignment was not the preferred one it’s a good idea to say that for having better options for the future. It’s in the mutual interest to position each person to the role their performance will be the best in.
Question: What was your personal contribution for the project success?
Understanding the value of ones contribution to the success is a nice indicator but the form of conveying this message is even more interesting to observe. However, this kind of contribution may be a passive one only.
Question: What ideas and proposals of yours were implemented? How did you make them accepted by the team?
This one should deliver a message of the active part in the project, meaning the real added value of the member to the quality of the project results. Activity, bringing fresh views and ability to convince the other team members about them is a welcome virtue.
Question: What technical leadership skills have you practiced? Give me some examples?
It is good to see the candidate’s aspiration for a leading position in a team. The drawback is that you never know whether it is an advantage or not for a given position and you need to be smart enough to estimate the employer expectations.
Question: What conflicting situations (business and interpersonal) have you had to resolve and how?
A typical question to explore how difficult situations are treated. This question must always be answered as it is very unlikely a professional hasn’t faced such.
Scenario: It’s 20 minutes till your work shift end at 17:40 on Friday evening. A severe issue appears in your environment, services are down for the client. How will you proceed?
Well, such a question can’t be ever answered correctly if you have no awareness about the operational model of the company. But it will very well disclose how you think about such situation and what your habits are. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions to understand the situation to be able to correctly decide.
Scenario: You suddenly receive a call, during a peak of the office hours, from a person introducing himself as a member of your customer’s CIO office asking you to move all VMs to a BCDR location due to some dependencies of their activities on the application layer they are performing. The name of the person you know but as an VMware layer infrastructure administrator you don’t have any visibility over the application layer. You also know the environment is not suffering from any issue, you were not aware of any planned activity and you know the BCDR location is not sized to properly run all the services during the peak of the day. What will you do?
Each technical specialist must know something about how the services are managed and delivered to the client, regardless it is an internal or external one. You need to speak about how you go forward to the client requirements but still holding the responsibility for their environment to run at the best level, securing your delegated technical area from any adverse impact.
Scenario: Twice a week you receive an alert in your vCenter on high memory usage of a ESXi host. You check the situation but there is no visible trouble, all is looking good and it seems to only be a peak issue so you go back to your busy schedule. However, you note it’s been a repetitive situation. How will you tackle it?
Describe how apparently harmless indications will be evaluated and treated by you.
And last, my favorite question, especially if a remote interview is conveyed: How do you like to work?
Boy, this is a very difficult question. Many of us want to work in a free, creative, rewarding, joyful, shiny and blossoming place, on thinking-founded tasks, interesting projects, novelties, learning new items of the technology, new approach to resolution and alike. But the daily reality may usually look different and only the interviewer knows what environment they are hiring for. Still, answering truly will give a much better match for both parties.
Well well, this is it. It’s only one of hundreds of possible ways how to try to determine match of the candidate’s attitude to work, expectations and aspirations. But the same applies for the other party, the candidate about her future employer. Interviewing is negotiation where both sides choose their future. Doing it the best possible way will save lots of misunderstanding and disappointment in the later daily business collaboration.
And what is your experience?
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