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Questions for upcoming technicial interview

Posted on 2009-04-27
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Hi Experts.  I own a small business (me) and am getting ready to hire a support tech for part-time support work.  The responsibilities range from supporting home users up to small business support.  I already posted the position and got back an unbelievable high level of techs and engineers interested in such a low level, part-time position.  (Is the market really this bad?)

The question I have for this group is, since this will be my first interview where I am asking the questions, does anyone have some examples that they ask in an interview?  Technical or non-technical.  Yes I did the google search and while that was helpful, sometimes it is beneficial to ask colleagues what has worked best for them.  

I appreciate your help with this.
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Question by:samiam41
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David-Howard earned 1000 total points
ID: 24245613
First of all, yes the economy is that bad. I just read a report of an ex securities broker. He topped out at $700K a year. He now makes $7.10 an hour. Delivering pizzas.
As for the interview questions.
I always hate the obvious ones. "Why do you want to work here?" (Because I like to eat......)
On my last interview I walked in and they (five interviewers) had a laptop on the table. They only said that they couldn't get it on the network. So while I am attempting to get this thing on the network they are asking me all kinds of questions.
"What was your great success in I.T.?" (In other words, what one problem did I fix that no-one else could and did it save the company any money.)
There were plenty of technical questions such as; What is DNS, what's it stand for, what does it do, etc.?
If you are catering to home users you might want to ask about wireless configurations as it relates to WEP.
How would you set up a router to filter by MAC? What is the benefit of this?
Simple troulbeshooting questions are always good I think.
Set up a question that involves a home network that just won't connect (any pc) to the ISP. The end result being a simple fix. Did you power down the modem/router and then power them back up. It's amazing how many times this will correct a connection issue that was previously working just fine.
Beep codes? Do they know the basic ones and what they mean. Very handy if you're remote (at someone's home). A tech that knows the error code is memory related won't waste time troulbeshooting a supposed video problem.
As a final note, during my interview with the broken laptop. The very first thing I checked was the CAT5 cable. Sure enough, they had unplugged it at the data port (That was under the table and not viewable.)
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by:Mark Wills
Mark Wills earned 1000 total points
ID: 24249732
Economy is not good - anywhere in the world. New job opportunities in a niche area with a small team rather than having to be super competitive within a narrow area of specialty in a company currently/possibly putting on staff would seem very attractive - ever thought of expanding down under ? :) :)  You are showing signs of growth where others are talking layoffs. Not surprising you are getting a lot of hits.

For me, looking at CV's / Resume's should say enough about capability, of course they need to be checked as part of the interview. So, I tend to focus on language - how they talk, how they present themselves, levels of comprehension, how they react / respond to a question possibly more so than the questions themselves. A good chemistry within a small team of people you can trust and demonstrate the type of qualities that you can see will help grow your business (as opposed to just getting the tasks done - no matter how brilliantly) are more important.

In terms of techo ability, ask them a few "telling" questions about what you do. For example, setting up DNS on a SBS server, and how many servers you can have. Or draw up a simple plan for a small office network, or if more electronically oriented, changing mother boards on a server ( have an old one there and see if they can determine what is wrong), or swapping disks in a RAID array etc etc. In other words, the real things that you actually do day in day out, not so much the esoteric, but that real "slog" work that will relieve your time to do more interesting things (like grow the business).

Would set up a scenario or three - take time to write it out, review it, ask others your trust and respect. Then present those three scenarios for the candidate to answer. Get them to verbalise their thought processes - a good methodology and approach to probelm solving is sometimes more important than guessing the right fix, so their annunciation of the process is important.

Remeber if they are service technicians or providing your company's services inside someones home, or business, how would you first regard them if they came knocking on your door, and it it came down to it, how would you feel as their employer defending their actions (and how they would react) in the (remote) possibility of a dispute - might be worth asking them how they would handle the difficult client, and or the difficult job.

Most importantly, set out a very clear parole period where the number of calls, the reports and feedback from peers and customers are going to determine long term realtionships.

By the way, good to hear you are in a strong position...

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by:Mark Wills
ID: 24250045
@samiam41: there is a question you might be interested in answering : http://beta.experts-exchange.com/ITPro/Consulting/Q_24345911.html
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by:samiam41
ID: 24250778
Brilliant!  I am always blown away with the experts on here and continue to be impressed with your thoughts and ideas.  Those are very helpful suggestions and will be worked into the interview process.  I was trying to figure out what to use for "hands-on" questions and I think I know what to put together.  Great work guys!  
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by:samiam41
ID: 24251148
@mark_wills, hey mate!  Great to work with you again.  I appreciate the kind words and link to the other question.  It's always good to see you on here.  How are you?
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by:samiam41
ID: 31575152
Thank you again for all of your help.  It is very much appreciated.

Take care!

-Aaron
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by:Mark Wills
ID: 24251600
G'Day Aaron,

Feeling good, taking it fairly easy in EE, thinking about a few other things like writing an e-book "SQL Admin for the non-DBA" - might even write one for the SQL DBA titled "Dont Touch SBS with your bare hands" :)

Next level is savant and "only" about 8 million points away, so figured it is going to take a while and in no real hurry. Besides which one of the Formula Fords needs a new clutch, and the go-kart I just sold has a blown engine (bugga), so been getting my hands greasy.

and like wise it was good to see you... and more importantly, impressed with your question. Well done in growing your business to such an extent that you need more resources. Don't forget the the best thing in business is to surround yourself with those that can answer the questions for you, will be loyal to you, and in turn (mutually) benefit from helping to grow the business with you.

Might even be interesting to see what you can do in a mentoring role for others wanting to start their own service business in return for a small stake, or some kind of business relationship and extend your reach (such as with the other question). Even helping them to manage their business for some kind of consideration.

Anyway, cheers for now and will see you around the traps...

Mark Wills
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by:samiam41
ID: 24253248
if anyone could write a book that the technical world would appreciate and do it in a way that non-technical people would respect, it is you.  I know that in the short time I have worked with you, I have learned a lot and realize you have the knowledge and experience to backup your statements.  You would do good to write that.  Shoot, only 8 million points to go?  Sounds like you may have some time to write at least a few chapters.  : )

I appreciate the kind words and have been blessed to be where I am.  I only hope that I bring the right person on board to balance out these business demands.  You make great points about loyalty and I have looked over the resumes of the 10 people I am going to interview to find any kind of pattern of loyalty.  I am guessing that interviews will tell that a little more then words on a paper.  
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by:Mark Wills
ID: 24253733
You are far too kind with your generous words and encouragements, and very much appreciated at the same time. Not sure what will come first, the points or the book :)

Let us know how you go with the interviews.
 
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