Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Interview Questions

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:11 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’m prepared to answer these, are you?

So, I’m still looking for work, but at two weeks, I suppose that’s to be expected.
I’ve had a couple phone interviews and I’m waiting to have a couple more.  Generally, if I can get an interview with a technical manager, I can sell myself well enough to get a job I have the experience to actually do.  Often, I can sell myself well enough to land I job I don’t know how to do, yet.
In either case, the only way to do it is preparation.  Know the questions I’ll be asked and know my answers.

U.S. News and World Reports has a great slideshow of the ten most common interview questions, with some advice about answering them.  That’s a great place to start.
Glassdoor expands that list to fifty of the most common interview questions, and while I certainly would recommend reading those, having answers that are prepared without looking memorized is the real key here.
Monster.com takes that list even further, to 100 interview questions, and goes way beyond the common ones.  While it certainly can’t hurt to peruse them, I’d really focus on the short list.
If you need help preparing, check out How to Ace the 50 Most Common Interview Questions on Forbes.com.  There’s a brief video on that page that auto-plays, so be aware.  Frankly, I really respect Forbes and they give some great advice about how to answer questions in an interview.

In the end, it really comes down to preparation and practice.  Sadly, I’ve had a lot of practice on job interviews.  The important thing is to be honest and consider how what you say reflects on you and whether or not your prepared answers will show your true colors.  Also, practice with a friend who can give you honest feedback.  Or, barring that, record yourself so you can see what you look like while interviewing and hear how you sound in giving responses.  It may be enlightening!

If you’re out there looking for work like me, I wish you the best of luck!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
" Reasonable men adapt themselves to their environment; unreasonable men try to adapt their environment to themselves. Thus all progress is the result of the efforts of unreasonable men."
   --George Berbard Shaw


Questions for Network Managers

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Getting ready for a job interview?  Be prepared!

I’m an old Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout, in fact, so I’m always thinking about “being prepared”, whether it’s a trip to the zoo for photography or a job interview.  Scouts taught me, among other things, to think about situations long in advance of being in them, so I can prepare for what I might need and what I might need to do if things go wrong.  There are thousands of ways this applies to being a professional geek, but, today, I’m going to focus on one way in particular: job interviews.

DICE ran an article back in November of last titled Interview Questions for Network Managers.  It’s good.  If you either are a Network Manager of some kind or plan to interview one, go read that article.  Seriously.  Of course, when I’ve been the interviewer in these situations, how the candidate got to the answer mattered to me as much as the answer itself.  The point of questions like these, for interviewer and candidate, is to display how the potential network manager thinks.  How we think about our networks and solve problems on them matter a whole lot.  I remember working with one guy who, basically, tried things randomly over and over until something worked or he broke it completely.  He never did understand the concept of changing one thing at a time to find out what was wrong so we could stop it from happening again.

In any case, I know a lot of my IT comrades are out of work out there and interviewing, so I thought I’d remind them of this resource to help prepare for future job interviews.
Good luck out there!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you can't be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape."


Inflexible Time at Work

Filed under: Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I recently finished reading [amazon_link id=”0307465357″ target=”_blank” ]4-Hour Work Week[/amazon_link] by Tim Ferriss.

I have to admit, I like the idea of working four hours a week and then pursuing my own interests the rest of the time.  You may not know it from how little I’ve posted here lately, but I do have interests beyond working a lot and high-tech geekery.  Realistically, because of how I do what I do, an actual four hour work week would be pretty difficult.  Of course, the book advocates doing something all-together different than a “regular” job.  Naturally, one of my major concerns as a cancer survivor is health insurance.  The book doesn’t talk too much about dealing with the health insurance issue.  However, it does talk about alternative revenue streams and different ways of generating income.  At least, generating income enough to live in an entirely different way than most of us “9-to-5-ers” do currently.  Or, for people, like me, unwilling to give up their “regular” job and the security it represents, Tim talks about working remotely and having flexible office hours and availability.
Personally, I’d be thrilled with getting out of debt and have some more flexible hours.

In fact, in my industry, things like remote work or flextime are quite the buzzword lately.
Now, keep in mind I mean “data technology and networking” as my industry, not the company I currently work for, who builds cranes.  In the networking world, we’re often asked to provide solutions of varying scales to let people work remotely, whether from home or elsewhere in the world.  For example, even though we’re a “little” company that makes great, big cranes, we still have people in multiple permanent locations on two continents.  Well, at least, several locations here in the States and one in the U.K.  But, I have service people who might be literally anywhere in the world.  Our cranes are pretty much in every off-shore oil-field now, so I may have people who’d like to get to a central server from almost anywhere.
And, besides the people who travel for work, I know that there are certain circumstances where people would like to work from home.  For instance, our Sales department is pretty tiny, so they’re always working.  And, if they have a big project, their day could easily stretch into more than ten hours or bleed over into the weekend.  I’m sure they’d love to be able to work from home sometimes.  Not to mention the engineers or draftsmen who might have a family emergency.
Or, even me, on occasion.  A lot of what I do I could probably do remotely or over the phone.

But, here’s the thing; not everyone feels that way.
I know from at least the anecdotal evidence in Tim’s book that people can be more efficient and productive working away from an office.  Certainly, with fewer distractions, I seem to be able to accomplish more.  And, when I get more done, I’m happier!  But, according to Baseline Magazine on-line, there are “risks” involved in flextime.  Frankly, I question their methodology for data collection.  For instance, they list several of the negative consequences of flextime, and by extension remote working, as “negative comments from supervisors”, “unfavorable job assignments” and “denial of promotions”.  But, those are pretty damn subjective and rely on opinions of workers who are using flextime, not actual facts.  Another “criticism” of flextime is that managers think that the best employees should be available 24/7 to handle whatever comes up and that the fewer personal commitments an employee has the more productive they are!  Well, of course!  The ideal employee is a robot who exists to work without ever taking a break!
Frankly, this sounds like someone pumping up junk research to make an article out of it.

Most people I’ve known who work from home actually put in more hours than they would at the office.  And, clearly, a lazy employee who needs structure to perform well is not going to produce when working remotely without someone to micromanage them.  Clearly, this won’t work for everyone, since lazy people will be just as lazy at home as anywhere else, but I don’t think that’s a valid criticism of the entire concept!

Well, in any case, I know that I’ll be looking into ways for people to work remotely that are low-cost or free.  If anyone knows of a free open source equivalent to Citrix, please, let me know!  I may start to look at the free OpenVPN as a possibility, too.  If anyone has any experience with that, I’d love to hear it!

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