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Educational IT Jobs Thread, Defining IT Support in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Agreed that technical skills are not the be all and end all of this job. When I posted in the ...
  1. #16

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Agreed that technical skills are not the be all and end all of this job. When I posted in the other thread about questions on the OSI model, those are questions I myself had been through, not set (and, for the record - I couldn't remember it all either, so fluffed a couple of entries, but still got the job as NM).

    There is so much in terms of technical knowledge needed to deal with a modern school system that it's well above the payscale most LEA's advertise at. You can advertise your wish list but you are not ever going to get someone with all the technical skills required, nor should you expect to.

    There is still a vast ocean between theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge in tech support. Yes, the theory is fabulous to know, in order to understand (and not just follow) best practice, and to be fulyl conscious of what you are doing. If it came down to it, though, I would employ someone with the practical knowledge over the theoretical, unless I was deliebrately hiring for the long term and could afford to have "half a man" while the theory specialist gained some experience.

    As others have said, the most important thing would be troubleshooting and communication. Troubleshooting isn't following a checklist, either; it's the logical outlook and ability to break everything down into steps and cover the ground thoroughly. Communication is, sadly, a priority for schools as well; schools have the widest range of users of any location. What other industry would you support end users ranging from 11 to 70 with a range of skills from "can't work out computers need plugging in" to "hacked your network and stole your stuff"? You need to be able to talk to all of these people at the appropriate level, and quickly; neither students nor teachers are the most patient of people with technology.

    As an example, my predecessor in this job was fantastic technically, but wasn't as hot on his communication skills; the end result now is that the network is working beautifully from the ground work he did, but I'm getting the praise because people find me more approachable. I could never have done the work he did, it was heroic; but nobody outside our department realises this because he built himself an ivory tower.

    To summarise my ramblings: the kind of person is far more important for a technician than the qualifications. Techie is a first rung on the ladder; you won't get the expert, so get the good worker.

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    ....my predecessor in this job was fantastic technically, but wasn't as hot on his communication skills; the end result now is that the network is working beautifully from the ground work he did, but I'm getting the praise because people find me more approachable. I could never have done the work he did, it was heroic; but nobody outside our department realises this because he built himself an ivory tower.

    To summarise my ramblings: the kind of person is far more important for a technician than the qualifications. Techie is a first rung on the ladder; you won't get the expert, so get the good worker.
    This is a far better example of what i was trying to say. Personally, I feel our school would benefit from an approachable individual, that had a can-do attitude, and was enthusiastic about the ICT tools in the learning environment irrespective of qualifications.

  3. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    What has image got to do with anything? .
    Image or, perception of the IT support team effectiveness is massively important. Do not underestimate it.

  4. #19
    somabc's Avatar
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    Hmm well the last questions I had at a job interview (for a 3rd line role) surprised me in that they said they were going to ask technical questions only ie none of this what have you achieved, whats your greatest weakness etc.

    Fair enough but they then asked 5 (not very) technical questions

    1) What is a Domain?
    2) What is Active Directory?
    3) How would you administer Server 2003?
    4) How do you keep your server patching up to date?
    5) How would you backup a server?

    and that was the end of the interview

  5. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    Hmm well the last questions I had at a job interview (for a 3rd line role) surprised me in that they said they were going to ask technical questions only ie none of this what have you achieved, whats your greatest weakness etc.

    Fair enough but they then asked 5 (not very) technical questions

    1) What is a Domain?
    2) What is Active Directory?
    3) How would you administer Server 2003?
    4) How do you keep your server patching up to date?
    5) How would you backup a server?

    and that was the end of the interview
    Would the answers be something along the lines of ....

    1. A collection of computers that are joined by a server or servers so as to apply security settings etc.
    2. A database of objects ( users, computers , etc )
    3. ??? not sure on this one would be good to get clarification or the answer ( group policy or what exactly ? )
    4. WSUS ?
    5. backup software to tape / nas or the likes with at least some way of taking a backup off site on weekends / holidays etc

  6. #21
    somabc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mac_shinobi View Post
    Would the answers be something along the lines of ....

    1. A collection of computers that are joined by a server or servers so as to apply security settings etc.
    2. A database of objects ( users, computers , etc )
    3. ??? not sure on this one would be good to get clarification or the answer ( group policy or what exactly ? )
    4. WSUS ?
    5. backup software to tape / nas or the likes with at least some way of taking a backup off site on weekends / holidays etc
    3) From my laptop while sat on the beach?
    Last edited by somabc; 16th February 2010 at 08:38 PM.

  7. #22

    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    3) From my laptop while sat on the beach?
    lol as in terminal services ?

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    Hmm well the last questions I had at a job interview (for a 3rd line role) surprised me in that they said they were going to ask technical questions only ie none of this what have you achieved, whats your greatest weakness etc.

    Fair enough but they then asked 5 (not very) technical questions

    1) What is a Domain?
    2) What is Active Directory?
    3) How would you administer Server 2003?
    4) How do you keep your server patching up to date?
    5) How would you backup a server?

    and that was the end of the interview
    I'd rather sit a day long exam than have to answer questions about my greatest achievements or what my weaknesses are. I've always considered them to be lazy questions.

    I'd love it if they always just asked simple questions like those above.

  9. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by AyatollahPies View Post
    I'd rather sit a day long exam than have to answer questions about my greatest achievements or what my weaknesses are. I've always considered them to be lazy questions.

    I'd love it if they always just asked simple questions like those above.
    They're lazy questions in that the interviewer has to do no work to prepare them but they can be really useful in working out what sort of person you're dealing with. Communication is really important if you work in ICT and lots of people who are good at the technical stuff are not very good at the human bit of the job (and frequently take pride in that!) There are no "right" answers to questions like "what are your greatest achievements" - there's just a way to answer it which shows that you can communicate and do understand what your job is about (it's not just about making a set of boxes work properly)

  10. #25

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Surely things like what you consider your greatest achievements would be included on your covering letter? ie. That letter would be crafted to highlight your biggest achievements from your previous role, whilst ensuring that they are relevant to the organisation you are applying to.

    Asking someone about their greatest achievements would be a little odd if they've already discussed them on their letter.

    Whereas, with technical skills, it is very difficult to list everything you know on your CV. My CV would be 10 pages long if I listed everything I knew relevant to a school's IT. Not to mention, a person can easily write that they can manage a 2008 AD domain but whether or not it is true is another matter!

    Yes, non-technical skills (communication, ability to learn, enthusiasm etc...) are important but if they lack the technical skills, you'd be hiring someone who is actually going to slow you down and increase your workload for quite some time to come. If you wanted someone like that, why not look into apprenticeships?

  11. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Surely things like what you consider your greatest achievements would be included on your covering letter? ie. That letter would be crafted to highlight your biggest achievements from your previous role, whilst ensuring that they are relevant to the organisation you are applying to.

    Asking someone about their greatest achievements would be a little odd if they've already discussed them on their letter.
    It is often quite revealing to query the claims people make in their covering letter; we have had applicants that have claimed to be "fully conversant with Server 2003 AD & it's maintenance" or "have implemented a multimedia PC suite" who clearly haven't when you test their knowledge.

    In one case I recall, implementing a multimedia suite turned out to be litle more than unpacking boxes & plugging cables in..... & watching while someone else imaged the systems.....

    Remember, there are an awful lot of 'professional' CV writers out there....... people should be prepared to have their claims & knowledge tested at interview.

  12. #27

    HarryMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I'd never have considered those skills to fall under the title of 'IT Technician' though. They are a media technician and web content administration etc... Otherwise, the entire concept of an IT technician is impossible to define. ie. the role becomes 'we can dump anything slightly technical, or involves using a PC into one role', which is something which the profession has moved on from.
    Sounds pretty much like most schools to be honest.
    With cutbacks in public spending, media techs and web administrators are likely to be amongst the first luxuries that schools will find it can live without, especially when it has those skills duplicated in the IT Support dept.

  13. #28

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    I was intrigued by the "Media Technician" comment earlier, and have just spoken with LEA re; job descriptions;

    A Media Technician does not exist as a post in our LEA. An AV technician post does not exist within the structure either.

    Their suggestion, is to adopt the policies of other secondary schools and to advetise for an IT Technician, but to write in context statements that include all the AV/Media work you will be expecting them to do.


    I know what some of you are thinking...an IT techncian shouldn't be asked to do any of them!

    So, is anyone else in the same position where they take on AV & Media work? Do you refuse, or like me, does the historical structure of IT Support mean you take on lots of things, that aren't technically in your job description.

    Personally, i quite like my Tech and I being involved in the AV/Media work, and i try to be accommodating in most things when i feel i can be helpful, on the JD or not.

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