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Having been both an interviewer and interviewee, it has been interesting to see the various styles of interview and the ways in which various candidates present themselves. This blog posts presents thoughts from both sides on various things to do and not to do.

The Interviewer

Your manager has asked you to interview three people that he has selected and gives you the cvs to read through in time for the three interviews that afternoon. What do you do? Well, the first thing is, ask him for a job spec – you need to understand what type of skills the person will require. Years of universe design may be preferrable or two years of nothing but dashboard development might be what is required. Don’t guess because the interview is putting part of your reputation on the line too! OK, so your lead universe developer has handed in their notice and you need someone similar to work alongside you. You are the main BO administrator of a BOXI3.1 system, well versed in CMC, server settings, fail over servers and clustering. You have had a bit of exposure to universe design from your soon to be leaving colleague. You’ve written deski and webi reports for about five years and feel comfortable doing so.

From that, you’ve therefore been able to form an idea of what you need from the candidate. An awareness of how the CMC works but you aren’t too bothered about the server side of things because that’s your bag. Strong universe design skills – they will lead that and have time to talk to you about it and solid report writing skills.

So, with that in mind, grab a pencil and read through the three cvs. What parts of the cv fit with what you’re looking for? You know the CMC so as long as they understand security and scheduling that will do. There needs to be a consistent thread of universe and report development throughout. Database and data warehouse design would be good too, so that they know how to understand and spot flaws in what they are delivering reports over. Look for gaps and inconsistencies. If they have worked on universes for just six months but claim expertise, be sceptical, especially when that six month role talks about more than just universe design. If you have any questions about any of their roles, this is where the pencil comes in. Write notes next to the roles about doubts you have and what clarification you want to be able to understand what they did there. Your manager may well be in the interview with you; if so, they should be the one asking the HR type questions about why the candidate wants to work for you, why they left their last role, etc.; you need to focus on satisfying yourself that they are technically up to the job in hand. Keep in mind the softer side though – do they seem trustworthy – are their inconsistencies in their answers or things that look like downright lies. Do you feel capable of building a good working relationship with this person? Be honest and expect honesty back. If they say that they don’t know, ask them to explain how they’d go about it – see if they can think beyond their knowledge limit.

At the end of all three interviews you will have 0, 1, 2 or 3 suitable candidates. As long as you can back your reasons for that many number of candidates then that’s great. If you have more than one, you then have to look at the bigger picture with your manager and see who they prefer. If you have any reservations about working with one of them, say so and say why.

The Interviewee

So, your cv has been good enough to land you an interview. Congratulations! Let’s stop there a second though. Is it actually your cv? Have you lied on your cv? I don’t know how it works in other countries but falsifying qualifcations (e.g. lying on your cv about degrees, diplomas, etc.) is regarded as fraud and is punishable by up to ten years in prison. If you can everything up that you claim you have done then that’s great. Put a positive spin on a cv by all means but if you have to lie to get the role, you’re going to struggle to maintain it and nobody wants a liar on the team.

Let’s give an example of that where you’ve been honest about your qualifications but lied about parts of your skillset. You’ve put in as a candidate for the role that was advertised above. They’ve overdone the requirements and asked for CMC, servers, universe design, dashboard design, Deski and Webi skills and SDK. You’ve got a level of understanding of the CMC that goes with universe design; that is, you understand the security model, can manage events and publications and set up users and look after Windows AD authentication. However, you know nothing about server clustering, failover, firewalls, etc..BO admin has become a job in its own right now but you’ve thought it was a core skill so claim you know all about it.

You’ve found out the name of the manager interviewing you, looked them up on LinkedIn and know a little bit about them. However, you don’t know the person who is covering the technical side. It turns out that it’s the BO administrator. He’s read that you know all about BO administration so starts with technical questions in his area of expertise and you fall flat on your face with your limited knowledge. The rest of an interview will be a write-off because you’ve already proven that you cannot be trusted. Explain that your core strengths are universe design and information delivery and that you had a BO administrator to look after the servers while you co-operated with them on the security model, setting up events and distributions and looking after Windows AD authentication.

The bottom line is that out of 10 requested skills, you don’t know which they really want you to know and which they are already strong in. Your job in the interview is to find that out and to establish the idea that you’re the right person for them with the skills that you actually have. Be honest, be keen. If you don’t know, say so, but explain how you’d go about rectifying your lack of knowledge, be that by suggesting a course, looking on SCN/BOB, consulting the dba, etc. Are you right for the job? Just as importantly, is the job right for you?

In part two, I’ll be looking at some sample questions that have been posted and assessing the standard of the question – some aren’t even worth answering!

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