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Need some advice on interviewing candidates for a Sr. System Administrator position

Posted on 2014-02-25
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Last Modified: 2014-03-13
I am a Sys Admin and I have been assigned the task to interview for someone of more Sr experience than me. I've never conducted interviews before. I need to focus on this candidate's ability to manage technical project from beginning to end. I need to know that this is the person I can go to for advice and questions. I need to have the confidence that this person knows what he or she is doing. What questions should I ask during an interview? I need to ask questions relating to the following:

1. Ant-virus
2. Internet security (web filtering)
3. Patch management
4. F5 Big IP
5. How he/she corporate in team projects and how he or she delegate work
6. Citrix
7. Integration
8. vSphere

Anyone have experience with interviewing for a Sr. Sys Admin, please share some of your questions. I am trying to focus on this person's architectural skills and project management skills. Any other questions I should ask to this candidate, please share. Thank you.
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Question by:5itface
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Expert Comment

by:stu29
ID: 39886568
Your candidate is supposed to be a Senior Admin.  I would not get in to the finer points of the details until you get a feel for who he/she is.  Make them do the talking.  Give broad examples of situations/configurations and have them explain how they have handled in the past, how their experience makes them a good candidate, would handle in the future.  Base you interview on scenario's .. remember this person is "supposed" to have more experience than you so let them convince you.  Of course .. if you sense any weak points you have to chase them down.

It should never be "hard" interviewing, it is an opportunity to find new talent and should be enjoyed.  If they are truly interested in the position, and are a good fit, they should be asking you just as many questions are you ask them.  A conversation more than an interview.

Based on your list above I would break your scenario's down in to layered security, Team work and management, and Visualization/Deployed services.  They are distinct area's, but they should also be able to tie them all together.

Hope this helps
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39886587
If they're supposed to know more than you do, then I would focus on their willingness to tell you about things and get along with you and the others.  Are they sociable as well as knowledgeable?  Basically, you're looking for someone who will make things better, not worse.
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by:aadih
ID: 39886715
Is the candidate a team player? Lead when necessary. Follow when appropriate. Give credit to others without hesitation. Able to praise other's work. Quick to praise. Slow to criticize. Slow as a snail in assigning blame.

Is the candidate a listener? Open to other's suggestions. Anti-not-invented-here-syndrome.

Is the candidate respectful towards all ideas? Old. New. Popular. Unpopular. Far out.
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Author Comment

by:5itface
ID: 39887430
I need some technical questions. Please post some here.
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Author Comment

by:5itface
ID: 39887603
Based off this resume, what questions would you ask for this potential Sr. Sys Admin? Let's call him JOhn Doe. I need 5-7 questions drawn up. Make sure these questions are technical and relates to architect/design, and implementing IT solutions.
interview-resume.docx
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Expert Comment

by:aadih
ID: 39887614
Sorry. If you need more assistance than offered above, perhaps, you may choose to recuse yourself from the interview.  ;-)
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Author Comment

by:5itface
ID: 39888057
Your propably right aadih! I guess because this is the first time I ever conducted an interview, I'm just not comfortable with it. I'll just go with the flow. Thanks.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39888174
I've never been a good interviewer and the people I hired didn't work out.  And it was mainly because of their social skills and willing to learn and participate.  I had always asked technical questions and realized that I should have hired people who were willing and interested in being there and learning what was needed.  The people who scored high on the technical questions I asked never got any better after they were hired.

I can sympathize with you and I'm glad I don't have to do that any more.
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by:aadih
ID: 39888557
I'll just go with the flow. ~5itface

That's the best answer to [this] question.  And [you] can't go wrong. :-)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've never been a good interviewer and the people I hired didn't work out. ~Dave Baldwin

That's why you are a good interviewer (now). Seeing "as is" is truly "going with the flow."  :-)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Mistakes make us human.]

Our greatest teacher is [seeing] our mistakes. :-)
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Accepted Solution

by:
hecgomrec earned 500 total points
ID: 39889039
Most of the time when hiring someone for this kind of positions I base the interview on knowledge and experience.

As mentioned 2 comments up, knowledge is key but experience is crucial to set real goals, achievement and a realistic path for projects to be on schedule.  The person should speak more in "we" mode instead of "I" and set its mind on the company's goals and priorities.

You need 5 questions:

1. What is the number one skill necessary to be a great System Manager?

 Possible answers:
             Being a strong team leader;
             Gathering and assimilating information quickly;
             Planning and reviewing projects;
             Having an engaging presentation style;
             Being flexible; and
            Having the fortitude to finish the job.

2. What is your main desired skill for members of your team?

In order to be a good leader, a manager needs to be able to evaluate a team’s strengths and weaknesses. To do this, he will need to evaluate each individual team member’s strengths and weaknesses. The correct answer to this question would involve the fact that a team is a combination of members with many different skills. The candidate's answer will tell you if the he will be looking for team members just like himself or if he recognizes that a successful team is made up of workers with differing skill sets not just "teamwork".

3. Based on your experience, how long will it take you to have full control and knowledge of a company's environment?

This question should be answer with several questions, how many users, how many servers, locations, mobiles, etc. the more questions or details the person ask the more concern they are about the real time they will take to get down from the learning curve of getting into a new environment.  Each enterprise is different, correct time frame is not the purpose of the question but what the person uses to calculate the time which means experience.  Here you can expect a real leader answer like "I will depend on the team to provide me the right info"

4. What was your most challenging job and Why?

     Let the applicant, elaborate his/her answer, good answer should come with something related to management not giving the right amount of time to finish or complete a project based on this experience and/or time frame.  Also, a situation out of his control with a team member, natural disaster, technology not available in the area, etc.

5. Why you think you are the best for the job?

Here the applicant can mention his experience fills your requirements but you are more looking for: the challenge it represents, I'll feel proud of working for "company name", it is a great company to work for.  Often, applicants can open and express their desire to improve their knowledge because your company offers better possibility for them to have access to the latest technology and keep them updated.


You can have more, if you ask your HR department!!!
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Expert Comment

by:aadih
ID: 39889112
In Jest (to have some fun in this dry technology forum):

1. What is the number one skill necessary to be a great System Manager?

 Jeez, I wish I knew. (Who knows?  Really.)

2. What is your main desired skill for members of your team?

That they don't give me hard time?

3. Based on your experience, how long will it take you to have full control and knowledge of a company's environment?

Who knows? (Depends upon how the environment is. Do they share readily or not? Do they like a new comer to take control or sabotage such efforts? Was someone(s), inside, looking to get this job? Would they be working for me now? What happened to the fellow who had this job? Why did he quit? Was he fired? Am I walking onto 'hot coals'?  Should I take that other job at the other company?)

4. What was your most challenging job and Why?

Boy, that dreaded question again. But I am totally prepared for that one. Here I go ... blah... blah... blah.

5. Why you think you are the best for the job?

How stupid is this question? Without knowing all others vying for this job, how can anyone answer this question is beyond me. (Was I right in applying for this job at this company? Would I have to work for this 'idiot'?)

Just for fun. Please. No offense implied (implicitly or explicitly). ;-)  :-)
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