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I have been in the IT field for the past 7+ years, however in recent years I have only been doing website development. I have a lot of general knowledge but everything is self taught. I currently have no certs but am working on attaining some.

If you were hiring someone for an entry level position in a Data Center either as a server/network admin, or technical support what are some questions you would ask the applicant?

My knowledge is not entry-level but I want to hone my skills and expand my knowledge as right now I have a very general skill set. Some might disagree but to me it just feels right.

I have an upcoming interview and want to prepare for it.

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Apologies for my late reply, had a lot going on at one time. I got an entry level position at a DC by just being honest and stating clearly during my job search that I know nothing but learn fast lol. Can't say what DC I am at but thanks to all who replied. I am definitely learning a lot on the job and started attending a cisco academy at a local public college. –  Damainman Mar 4 '12 at 10:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Honestly, don't try to misrepresent yourself as someone you're not. If you haven't done DC work before, don't try to make it sound like you know what you're doing -- when it comes to doing the job, they'll assume you have knowledge you don't, give you some job you can't do, you'll stuff it up and you'll be thought of as incompetent (or dishonest).

Instead, in the interview, highlight that your skills are self-taught, and that you learn really fast. If they're really after an entry-level position (rather than, say, an experienced tech they want to pay entry-level wages for), then they'll understand that the right applicant won't know what they're doing, but will be able to learn quickly -- something you should be able to demonstrate.

For an entry-level DC tech position, the questions I'd be asking would be the sort that would examine the candidate's ability to both follow direction and learn quickly -- past jobs, education, that sort of thing. Given the job is largely physical in nature, I'd be inclined to give them a practical test -- say, a pre-wired (not perfectly neat) half rack and some (decommissioned) servers and networking gear, and get them to audit it. Attention to detail, accuracy, and speed would all count. Then probably give them a few change requests ("recable port X-Y to port Z-AAA") and ask them to execute them. They can ask whatever questions they feel are appropriate, and I'd give reasonable supervision (they're entry level, after all), but it's mostly about their ability to listen, ask reasonable questions, and learn.

For an experienced DC tech position, I'd have the servers in a pile on the floor and tell them to go rack it all up. Neatness, speed, and accuracy count for the most in this situation, and while questions are allowed, if they're the sort that show that you're a web developer who's trying to bluff me into hiring you as an experienced DC tech... <grin>

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"I'd have the servers in a pile on the floor and tell them to go rack it all up" - next time we get 20 new servers, I'm totally doing "job interviews"... –  Mark Henderson Jul 12 '11 at 23:28
    
You'd trust a job candidate with real servers? I'd use the pile of decommissioned kit. –  womble Jul 12 '11 at 23:30
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On a serious note, being honest and truthful cannot be up-voted enough. Entry level positions have everything to do with listening and great communication skills and almost nothing to do with your actual technical ability. If you know a tiny amount by asking here (i.e. what a rack unit is), they may very well assume that you know how to put the screw mounts in a square-hole and pop some rails on (hey, he knows what a rack unit is, how can you know an RU without knowing that, etc). You're going to be screwed if you learned a tiny bit of info here but not the rest of the story. –  Mark Henderson Jul 12 '11 at 23:31
    
Thank you for your reply. My resume and cover letter made it clear that the majority of the work I have done has been web development with some pc support and home network setups. I plan on making it very clear my skill set and will take your advice :) When you say you would have them audit the server, what might you expect them to do? I don't plan on using the info to try to BS but I am one of those who just like to know things. –  Damainman Jul 12 '11 at 23:34
    
"You're going to be screwed if you learned a tiny bit of info here but not the rest of the story." Quoted for massive truth. –  womble Jul 12 '11 at 23:36

I like to show someone a post from a rack and have them point out one rack unit.

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Thank for taking the time to reply, can you elaborate a bit more? I have worked in computer repair and web development but everything has been self taught and I've only learned the scope of the projects I was working on. The projects varied so much though that I by the time I had a chance to remember or master what I taught myself, I was already working on a different technology. –  Damainman Jul 12 '11 at 22:31
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Lesson 1: Stick "rack unit" into Google. –  womble Jul 12 '11 at 23:24
    
Thanks for the tip :) –  Damainman Jul 12 '11 at 23:44

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