Dbrianmchas has an open career question in the forums of TechRepublic. This member has been hacking out networking solutions on his own for the last eight months and is ready to join an established team. The question is worth 95 TechPoints and is about interviews.
“For the last eight months, I have been the network administrator at a small company in Arizona. I had no extensive experience in the IT field before. After 20 years of being an avionics technician in the Air Force, I started working toward an MCSE (two tests down) and completed a B.A. in I.S.
“I don’t have anyone to train me at my present job. I learn everything by trial and error. Sooo frustrating. I’d like to work at a place where I will be part of a team and around people who can help me reach my full potential. Brains that I can pick from. But how would I get this across in a job interview without sounding like an incompetent leech?”
Other TechRepublic members weighed in on the question and provided some interviewing suggestions.
The team-player attitude is an asset
lvachon offered the reassuring advice that there is nothing “incompetent” about recognizing the benefits of a well-organized team.
“It is very reasonable to explain to a prospective employer that while you have learned a great deal at your present position, much of it has been via trial and error. Your coursework will take some of the ‘guessing’ out of the equation, but certainly not all. You could explain briefly that what you are looking for is to be a part of a team where people combine knowledge and talent to troubleshoot, learn new products, and so on. Your goal is to continually evolve and refine your skills, and this is difficult to do when all tasks (minor and major) fall only to you.
“You’ve already said what you really need and that is an atmosphere to reach your full potential—doing so requires more perspectives and training opportunities (from others on a team and perhaps formal opportunities from an employer as well).”
Pmwright said that Dbrianmchas is on the right track.
“Companies look for people to take them to the next level, and I think they expect to hear a prospective employee say that they would like to get to the next level as well.
“You’re wise to recognize that there is only so much excellence you can generate on your own and the real power is in being part of a team—and that includes both the players and the coach.
“I don’t really see any danger of you sounding like an incompetent leech. The fact of the matter is that companies in search of excellence look for attitudes just like yours. What they (and I) are getting really weary of are arrogant and abrasive network administrators who know it all and believe that whoever holds the admin password owns the company.
“I’d say you’re in pretty good shape to get the job you want—just be honest, don’t discount your experience, and emphasize your belief in team spirit.”
Rely on what you know
Skent, who also has an Air Force background, has a suggestion about how to feel at ease during an IT job interview.
“Try to think of the interview process as the appearance before a board for NCO of the month or an interview for a special duty assignment. This may help you feel more comfortable and relaxed, thus allowing you to speak from the heart.
“Experience is important, and your background in the AF is sure to speak volumes to your dedication and discipline. Most companies today seem to be looking for people that want to be team players and grow with and for the company. Play up your desire to grow as an effective way for the company to grow. Your success will surely enhance the company’s success.”
If you’re assigned the task of teaching or using a new piece of software, what’s the first step you take? Take the CDs home and install the program on your computer and hack away at it? Talk to your colleagues or visit chat rooms and forums? Send us a note with your best tips for gathering information on new products.