Hiring an experienced newbie

20 Sep

So, it’s been incredibly difficult to find a qualified applicant for our new sysadmin position. At minimum, I’m looking for someone that knows how to manage windows server on vmware. This person will be required to follow processes for change management, disaster recovery planning, testing, etc. This person’s duties will quickly grow to managing the vmware infrastructure as well as critical windows services.

I’m currently reviewing an applicant who has, as far as I’m concerned, been working the same job for the past 21 years. The only reason he’s looking for work is his job is being eliminated. But, to cut him some slack, I must say that he sounds no less sharp than any of us tools in this here shed. In the end, we all rely on google-fu to save our bacon. I need to be careful not to be a hypocrite there. Plus, talking to him, one hears a clear appreciation or respect for what goes on in big scale.

But, I can’t stop thinking: we’re dealing with a guy who has been comfortable and is being shocked into action; else become extinct.

I want to say to him: you’ve been at the same job for over 20 years and all you have to say for yourself is what is on your resume. Why should I hire you? Make a compelling case. and don’t tell me that you are passionate and a quick learner; it takes more than that.

In the end, I say who gets hired. So, why should I even waste my time agonizing over this applicant? Because we’ve all been there. We all hope someone gives a break, taking into account that we have the potential to be successful.

Should I give this person a break?


Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Hiring an experienced newbie

  1. quiestje

    September 21, 2013 at 5:56 am

    This awesome post beautifully answers my question — it’s a must read:

    In a nutshell, one must look for these 4 traits:
    1. (a history of) exceptionalism
    2. creative initiative
    3. motivation
    4. value

    Make sure your interview questions address each trait.

  2. quiestje

    September 21, 2013 at 6:36 am

    This post makes the secret seem so obvious:

    We get so wrapped up in effectiveness & efficiency; we forget what REALLY matters…
    Intergrity and character

    • quiestje

      September 21, 2013 at 6:37 am

      I was looking from the outside-in. What I really needed to start with was what lies inside first.

  3. quiestje

    September 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    After the technical breakdown of the candidate and in-person interview, here is the summary:
    -was with the same employer for the last 21 years
    -looking for a new job because his is imminently being closed
    -has not taken other positions out of “loyalty” to his current team
    -average analytical skills
    -limited exposure to server administration
    -jack of all trades but mainly serves as desktop support
    -appears enthusiastic with our technology

    Questions for us:
    -Do we want to invest in grooming him, to take him to the next level?
    -How can you claim to be from a small shop (limited budget) and not want to try new technologies (i.e. open source systems)? He seems too complacent


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