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General Chat Thread, Questions to ask ppl interviewing for ICT Network Administrator post? in General; Hi, I work at an educational institution, and shortly they will be holding interviews for the role of ICT Network ...
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    Arrow Questions to ask ppl interviewing for ICT Network Administrator post?

    Hi,

    I work at an educational institution, and shortly they will be holding interviews for the role of ICT Network Administrator.

    There are 200 users, with 100 computers spread out throughout the buildings, and this is a big job as you can see from the job description below!

    However, there is only ONE person currently doing the job, and when they leave their experience will be leaving with them. Unfortunately that person will not be participating in the process to select their replacement, and the people on the interview panel themselves do not have a technical background.

    Employing somebody in a situation such as this can often be very difficult, but I'm guessing there are some people on the forum here who have either been to interviews for similar jobs, or held interviews for similar roles, and I'd value your advice on what good challenging questions can be posed in order to identify a candidate's level of experience.

    I know that to some extent a CV and past employment will indicate a level of experience, but beyond that it is often possible for candidates to 'bluff' experience in interviews but then later turn out to be very green, so any advice appreciated.

    The job will involve:

    - Day to day management and maintenance of network (it is a Microsoft network running either Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2003 Server, I'm not sure).
    - Management and maintenance of email system (Microsoft Exchange).
    - Maintenance of web content filtering system (this is a Linux solution but you administer it through a web interface).
    - Website updates and maintenance (this is administered through a web interface so no HTML coding is necessary).
    - Management and maintenance of all IT hardware, from arranging repairs / replacements of faulty hardware, to inventory control of ink cartridges
    - Assistance with Student Management database system (again, it's a third party solution administered through a web interface)
    - Technical support for users in difficulty

    So - does anybody have any good questions that could be put to potential candidates? Any constructive ideas appreciated.

    thanks and regards

    BigBlockOfCheese

    P.S. This looks like a great forum - one for the bookmarks...

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    You need to get someone to write some kind of practical test and written test for candidates. This will weed out the people, who will try and make out to be better than they really are.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    I'm not sure you can do it really. If the people on the panel have limited technical knowledge, I'm not sure asking any technical questions would do you much good. The only thing I could see being of any benefit would be how well the candidate was able to explain technical answers in a simple manner.

    As ChrisH has said you could get them to take some tests where there are already a predefined answers. That way you could see if they had the knowledge they needed. If you ask them technical questions without knowing the subject you may not understand their answer even if they got it right.

    EDIT: I assume the person who is leaving will have done so before the interviews? If not, is there be any chance they could be on the panel? Even as part of an informal chat to the candidates which could be seperate from the interview itself?
    Last edited by penfold; 29th October 2008 at 08:33 AM.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    bossman's Avatar
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    Agree with Penfold:
    Would need someone on the panel who has technical knowledge as you will end up giving the job to someone who doesn't have the relevant background or experience.
    It's always a shame I think when, as always, the technical side of things is always the last to be thought about and yet it is always the key element that is needed, for the life of me I cannot get round the fact that British management techniques still teach nothing about the technical elements within education and industry it's as if you are treat like a necessary evil needed but not wanted only when things go wrong.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    BigBlockOfCheese,

    Do you have another school/college close to you that has a network manager that you could 'borrow' for the day to sit on the interview panel? That is what my current place did for the new Business Manager, had one from a neighbouring secondary sit on the panel..

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    somabc's Avatar
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    You should be able to get someone from the LA with a technical background although I agree it would be best to get another schools NM to come for the day (for a suitable fee of course)

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    What the others said...

    There's no point asking Technical Questions unles you are going to understand the answers... and be confident that you'll know when the candidate isn't as Technical as you need.

    Find someone who does know to be a part of your panel. If your own NM is unavailable, do you have a partner school who'd be able to 'lend' you theirs?

    (I ended up being on the NM interview panel at the school where I'm a governor, just after I was elected... they were rather relieved when they discovered that their new parent governor 'understood computers'!)

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    I have been for quite a few interviews in schools of varying sizes over the years, and only in the bigger schools where there is a savvy ICT co ordinator or more than one in the IT dept have I ever been asked any technical questions - probably for the reasons stated: the interview panel wouldn't know if my answers were right or wrong.
    I would agree that you need a technical person to help interview for a higher level job, or a bigger school, but in this case it doesn't seem that big a job to me - I wouldn't have thought you would need a whiz kid to do it, just someone with solid experience. I know that it is difficult to take up references before someone is offered a job, but often you can, with the candidate's permission, contact someone else within their current job or even in the one previous which will give you an overview of their abilities.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    Why don't you set up some repairs? Identical machines with the same two errors - i.e. RAM needs reseating and HDD cable removed.

    You can then tell the interviewers they have passed the test if the machines boots to Windows? Simple enough for the interviewers to monitor and can be set up prior.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    If at all possible you want to get someone from outside who is technical and that you trust to come in and help.

    Practical tests are good - you need someone who can set something up but the actual checking can be relatively easy. For example, if the test is to connect to a network printer and print a test page then you can pretty easily see if they've done it. Get them also to print a screen grab of (say) permissions on the print queue and you've almost got a self marking exercise (virtual servers are good for this sort of thing!)

    I've got candidates to phone a user before now -the user has a problem which the candidate has to try and fix (eg can't access the internet; can't find a file). Key thing here is not if they fix it but how they go about it - does the end user think that the techincal person knows what they're doing. I've seen candidates actually shouting down the phone; they didn't get any further in the process ...

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    Pretty much what everyone else has said... really need someone on the panel who know what the job is about so you dont get someone with really good ppl skills but not enough technical skills. I would even go as far as to say you would need someone with technical ability to setup the practical or written or both as really given the position I would think you would need more skills then a techy. Also getting someone to replace the guy/gal that left is one thing but getting someone who will strive to improve and develop is another so its worth while getting them to do a presentation on a given topic. Well thats my 2 pence anyway.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    I would agree with what others have said in terms of having a chat with a neighbouring school and see if there IT Manager will be on the panel. That's what one of the schools near me did when they were recruiting. Incidentally we didn't charge them anything for doing it. It was done in the name of collaboration.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    Agree with the others. When I was interviewed for my post, they got hold of another NM from a nearby School to do the technical interview.

    Had a whole load of quick fire questions with quick fire answers with the NM and Deputy Head (explain DHCP, DNS, RIS, etc), followed by a number of Scenerio based questions that enabled me to eloborate on technical details. Then grilled further regarding budgets, licencing, etc.

    This was followed by the panel interview with the Head, Business Manager and Head of ICT.

    Then had the tour of the School (!), which I was a little miffed about as I would have preferred to see the School first. However, when I spoke to the PA on the way out to say I'm still interested I was pulled back into the Head's Office and offered the job on the spot!

    Pete

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    There are 200 users, with 100 computers spread out throughout the buildings, and this is a big job as you can see from the job description below!
    That's actually a very small network for education. Quite a lot of guys and gals here manage networks with 1000 users and 400-500 computers with either just themselves or (if they are lucky) one other.

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    bigblockofcheese (1st November 2008)

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    apeo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    That's actually a very small network for education. Quite a lot of guys and gals here manage networks with 1000 users and 400-500 computers with either just themselves or (if they are lucky) one other.
    I was gonna say that.. Kinda easy.

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