Technical interview questions

The Spyder

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Hey guys, I was contacted today by a local consulting firm searching for a Level 2 Network/Systems Administrator. Apparently I fit their search criteria and I had a quick phone interview today. At the end I was asked to come in Wednesday for a interview. The hiring manager mentioned the technical director would be there and is a bit of a bear with technical questions. This is the only thing I am worried about. I absolutely lock up, no idea why! Never happens with real life situations/high stress situations. I always pull through. So I am asking you guys for some tips and tricks to help me ace the technical part of this interview.

My google powers have left me with the following advice:
1) Answer questions honestly, if you dont know it say so. Then explain how you take the steps to find the answer (I do this anyways.)
2) Keep good body language and speak confidently.
3) Its not so much the questions as is is the way you handle the situation. Confidence and well composed answers are the goal.
4) Good nights sleep, dress professional, and show up just a few minutes early.

Outside of this, what should I read up on for the actual questions, I would rather be as best prepared as I can be. So far its DHCP/VPN/DNS/AD/S2K3/S2K8/Exch 03 and 10.
 

Adam

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Heres what I look for when im interviewing...

If you don't know the answer to my question, come up with an alternate. Or say "well i don't really know the answer to that off the top of my head, but in a real world situation i can tell you i'd research it on experts-exchange.com and i have a buddy who has some answers sometimes" - don't just go "uhh i don't know" show me you can find answers. We all don't know the answers, but being able to figure something out, without me holding your hand, is what i wanna see... thats really the purpose of me asking questions.

Don't be a brick wall, talk. Not too much i don't wanna be your best friend, but be friendly and personable. I don't want a robot to work for me.

Don't overdress, don't underdress... don't show-up like your on john gottis crew and don't dress as if you just wokeup. shower, smell nice, "look like a golfer" thats how i call it... look like your at some charity benefit, not necessarily suit/tie as unless your going for a management position for a fortune 500 company i think the suit/tie is a bit much. I like to see someone in a nice pair of slacks, a nice clean ironed shirt, well groomed

FIRM handshake, don't give a flimsy handshake, don't break the interviewers hands, give a firm handshake and make it last a few seconds, dont just touch hands like "ehhh" you can tell a lot about a person by their handshake

be prepared...even if they don't ask, give them copies of reference letters and contacts. be honest about why you left your last job... but be careful about what you say.

don't be TOO early to the interview (i've had people showup 30 minutes to an hour early and they sit there and sit there and sit there... why so eager beaver???)... showup maybe 5-10 minutes early. i'd say no more then 10.

if your running late, CALL the interviewer, don't just showup late, BADDD marks in my book. "im a little lost" is a nice one to use

basically just be honest, the truth WILL come out eventually and your best bet is to be honest up front...
 

StarTrek4U

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Most of this advice is good however I take issue with the suggestion on how you dress. I'm not sure when this changed but there seems to be a number of people who think something like Khaki's and a Polo is ok for an interview, which it is if you're looking to work a drive-through window somewhere. As a hiring manager I would expect you to come to an interview in a shirt and tie (or a suit), it shows that you're serious about the job and want to make a good impression. If someone walked into an interview I was conducting with the Khaki/Polo combination on they immediately say to me that they don't take this too seriously- so during the interview they had better be pretty damn good since they are already in the red. With jobs today being harder to come by you need to do whatever you can to make yourself stand out (in a good way), and the way you dress is a part of that.

One thing to keep in mind when answering questions is that you don't have to immediately answer the question when asked, take a moment (but not too long) to think about it, or if you need some more time fill it by asking question back. For example if the question was "How would you configure DNS in a Windows Domain Environment?" if you're not sure right off the top of your head you can ask "How many domain controllers are there?" or "Is this for a single site?" That way it shows that you're listening, plus gives you a bit of time to come up with the best answer.
 

k1pp3r

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If you don't know the answer to my question, come up with an alternate. Or say "well i don't really know the answer to that off the top of my head, but in a real world situation i can tell you i'd research it on experts-exchange.com and i have a buddy who has some answers sometimes" - don't just go "uhh i don't know" show me you can find answers. We all don't know the answers, but being able to figure something out, without me holding your hand, is what i wanna see... thats really the purpose of me asking questions.


I know everyone interviews different, however i Don't look for the same as you.

I do the Technical part of the interviews. When i ask you a technical question i first base them at what i believe your skill level is and then throw in a few above your skill level.

The last thing i want to hear is an candidate tell me they would look on Google. Thats not why you are here, i can hire a monkey to google something.

What i am looking for is your troubleshooting methods. I honestly don't care if you get the answer completly correct i just want to know you can think like an engineer.

Now if i ask a question at at your skill level, i expect a close answer.

I just don't care if you can google something or look on experts-exchange. Anyone can do that.
 

calvinj

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Honesty Honesty Honesty. I have to agree with k1pp3r. Most people could hire a Monkey to Google the hell out of something, but show that you have at least the troubleshooting skills that they are looking for. Paint an Accurate picture of who you are and what you know and some how let them know you are always open to learning new technologies, standards, etc.

After Friday I can let you know if it paid off or not.
 

Madnes5

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I disagree with Adam. Wear a suit. Better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Also, show up early, just don't want into the building a half hour early. You can sit in your car and prepare if need be. But it's much better to arrive early than to run late because of some unexpected traffic and be stressing.

Take you time answering questions. It doesn't hurt to sit for a couple of seconds in contemplation before answering a question.

If the interviewer asks an interesting question that you don't know the answer to, consider writing it down to review later. I have impressed several interviewers by showing them that I thought their question was interesting enough to followup and research. In my mind, they liked that I wanted to learn. And it was a bigger bonus when I was able to come back on the second interview to discuss what I had learned.

As Kipper mentioned, answer to the best of your ability. If you have a guess, say it. Explain why you think that it's right or close to right. Explain your thought process. Show them how you arrived at the conclusion you did. Even if you're wrong, if you can show a logical/methodical thought process, that is sometimes better. For an entry level job they're hiring you based on what they can teach you, not what you already know.
 

InvisiBill

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I don't think it's possible to get much more than general advice here. Every interviewer is going to be different. As you can see above, some people are going to think a suit is overkill, while others are going to consider it the standard. You'll probably always get some fishing to see how you handle something you don't know, but your answers could be interpreted differently by different interviewers. For example, one person could interpret "Google" as you being able to find solutions to things you don't know, while someone else might think that you believe you can just ask the internet for the answer to anything. Hopefully in k1pp3r's example, the person's answer would at least include Google as a possible source of info for their troubleshooting rather than just "I'd Google it." And on the flip side, hopefully k1pp3r wouldn't think that any answer that simply mentions Google makes the person an idiot.

I think you need to read the interviewer somewhat. Answers given to a manager are going to be different from those given to an engineer. An engineer might want to hear that you'd check if the BLT drive went AWOL, while a manager might just want to hear that you'd check the networking stuff for problems. Even just different personality types may warrant adjustment to your answers. Stay honest, but maybe tweak your presentation a little to match.
 

k1pp3r

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And on the flip side, hopefully k1pp3r wouldn't think that any answer that simply mentions Google makes the person an idiot.

Oh not at all, i use google all the freaking time lol.

But in a technical interview, i don't want to know your google skills, i want to know your troubleshooting skills. Its like asking someone, how many golf balls will fit inside a 747 jumbo jet. You may not get the answer correct, but i want to see you work the problem in front of me. Not just say, oh google will tell me.

As for dress. it differs based on industry.

I for one, never wore a suit jacket to an interview. For IT Engineers, normally nice dress pants, a button up shirt and tie is fine. However if your going to a sales interview, you need to be in a full suit, with comfy shoes, and no dinner plans cause your gonna be there several hours.

Go into the building no more than 15 minutes early. If its a large building, give yourself extra time to get to the floor/department where you will be interviewing.
 

Valnar

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Don't interrupt. Don't be timid or scared. Don't be overbearing or cocky. Somewhere in between is good. Confident and respectful is the best advice I can add to the great answers above. Only, and only if you are interviewing for a Senior technical position is it okay to be a little know-it-all-'ish. They will expect you to be an expert as opposed to somebody who googles for answers.
 

calvinj

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I think you need to read the interviewer somewhat. Answers given to a manager are going to be different from those given to an engineer. An engineer might want to hear that you'd check if the BLT drive went AWOL, while a manager might just want to hear that you'd check the networking stuff for problems. Even just different personality types may warrant adjustment to your answers. Stay honest, but maybe tweak your presentation a little to match.

I think this is pretty important here. Where you have to play carefully and creatively is when both sides of the table are interviewing you (management and engineer). I had that at my last interview and I found myself answering my questions with caution that I didn't want to rattle of so much technical information that the director was overwhelmed, but enough that that they could see that the technical knowledge of the question was there. And the other way too
 

The Spyder

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Thank you for all of the advice. I have been through several technical interviews and just been amazed at how they have differed based on the person giving the interview. The advise so far is very solid and reinforcing what I have been researching. I plan on showing up 10-15 minute early, waiting until 5 till and then going in. It has worked well so far. As for dress I have a nice set of Khaki pants, dress shirt, and tie with a light jacket. I am getting ready to buff up using the job desciption.

I would really enjoy a position like this, the HR director seems to think I would be a good fit, the pay is great, and its very close. Just a few minutes from my last job.
 

LZ1

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I don't know how large the company your applying at is but beware some companies ask Microsoft style interview questions.

"Why are man hole covers round" and other various questions to see how creative you are and if you can think on your feet.

I had this happen before at an interview caught me off guard for a couple mintues
 

JeffBlair

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Jul 13, 2009
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Try to stay relaxed. I know I always get stressed in interviews, and tend to ramble.
As for what to wear. I've been told to do "1 step up". See what people are wearing there, and then wear a bit more. i.e. They wear dress pant's, and button down shirts, wear a suit. If they are just running around in shorts(I've been to a game design place where that was the case), just wear slacks, and a tie.

You can say that you'd look it up on Google for A question, not for everyone of them. Like a couple of people have said. Tell them you don't know the answer, but how you'd trouble shoot it. And, asking co-workers is always a good thing. Shows that you can play well with a team. At least I think so.

Good luck. :)
 

Valnar

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I don't know how large the company your applying at is but beware some companies ask Microsoft style interview questions.

"Why are man hole covers round" and other various questions to see how creative you are and if you can think on your feet.

I had this happen before at an interview caught me off guard for a couple mintues

Because if they were square, they would blue screen and reboot?
 

k1pp3r

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Guys, this is an interview thread from March, i don't think he needs the advice right now lol
 
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