In today’s dynamic IT world many people might find themselves in a position where they are now looking to get a new or better job than they had up to that point in time. Getting your foot into the door is hard enough, and for that you need a well-written CV, not to mention the ability to make a good first impression on the potential phone conversation you might get. However, getting the foot in the door is just the first step of actually getting the job. In most cases you should now expect to be interviewed by an experienced IT Professional, perhaps even the same one that you’re going to replace, or the one you’re going to work under.
Most technical interviews will be related to the job-specific tasks you’re supposed to apply for, therefore not all technical interviews are alike. However, applying for a Microsoft-related IT position has some benefits, as most of the information can be found on the Internet (not to mention this website). Needless to say, you should NOT apply for a job you’re not qualified to perform, but as we all know, this recommendation is hardly ever followed by people who sometimes falsify their so-called experience and pretend to have knowledge they do not actually have. Here is where the interviewer’s role comes into place, and where true knowledge can be placed apart from various wannabes or fakers.
Here is part 1 of Daniel Petri’s (long and thorough) MCSE/IT Pro/System Administrator job interview questions sample. Note that this is only a sample of what I might ask a potential candidate, however I think that I’ve covered most of the basic and non-basic issues. Answering this list in a satisfactory way will give you a pretty good chance to impress your potential interviewer, especially if that person really knows a thing or two about these issues.
This article is in fact targeted at both the interviewer (who needs a pool of valid questions they can ask) and to the candidate (who wants a pool of sample questions they can prepare for). Needless to say, both MUST know what they’re talking about. Having an interviewer that knows nothing about the questions they ask should be punishable by law! :)
I did not prepare a passing score chart for my interview questions, as I feel that it is the responsibility of the interviewer to get the “right” feel from the candidate. Passing with a hard coded score of 70% does not qualify you, it’s the general feeling I get from asking the questions, looking at the candidate’s ability to answer them and the way he or she copes with questions that they cannot answer.
Also, although I consider these questions as a thorough verbal test for the candidate’s knowledge, in most cases, when he or she passes this phase, I will also ask them to perform an actual hands-on lab based on my written exercises. I might also include these in a future part of this session.
I have deliberately left out the answers to these questions. I want YOU to research them and take the time to actually learn these topics, if you don’t know them already.
Another question that came up from some readers was whether I was not afraid to disclose these questions publicly, as some candidates reading this site will quickly copy the questions and use them to get prepared in advance for the interview. My answer to that is THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT! I want the candidate to know what they’re here for, and the more prepared they are, the better their knowledge is. The “cheating” candidate that will only learn the answers by heart (like “Paper MCSEs” do today) will have no chance of passing my hands-on exam anyway.
Most sub topics start off with relatively easy questions where the candidate is supposed to demonstrate their knowledge on that topic. A few sentences will be enough to show their (lack of) knowledge on the topic.
I know some of these questions might make you feel like I am digging in too deep. Well, although this might be true for some questions, I always proceed with the interview in a dynamic way, which means I will add more questions on a topic or reduce the level of questions based on the candidate’s ability to answer previous questions. Much like ADAPTIVE TESTING that was used in some past Microsoft exams. For example, when asking a candidate about DNS he demonstrated very limited knowledge of the basic meaning of the service and what it was used for. There was no point in trying to ask him about Round Robin, knowing that since he did not know what SRV Records were, what was an AD Integrated Zone, what were Zone Transfers and so on, he will probably not know the answers to the more advanced questions. Oh, and in case you wanted to ask – he was not accepted for that specific job…
In part 1 of this article series I will cover Microsoft Networking issues. As always, your comments and feedbacks are more than welcome. Use the “Feedback” form to send them in. If you’re using this interview question sample in your own environment please drop me a line telling me how it works for you. Also, placing a link to my site and giving me credit for my work is expected.
The next article in this series will cover Active Directory questions!