Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Acing the DBA job interview: Getting back to basics

This is part one of a three-part lean over succession for the DBA job seeker. Click here to read part two, "DBA 102:Beyond the basics."
It may astonish you that DBAs, and most IT-related locations for that subject, are over in high demand, much like they were as long as the dot-com era. There is an horrifying scarcity of talent. This scarcity is due to more elements, embracing the retirement of the baby boomers and the resultant descent in educational school academic achievement in IT. The market is promptly spinning from an employer-friendly to an employee-friendly market. But let's not congratulate just yet.
While the market circumstances are surely reception journal for most DBAs, it should not be considered as a free voucher to a new, higher-paying job. Having advanced credentials does not intend that all you have to perform is submit your recommence and hold back for an offer. You still want to chase the minimal enterprise beliefs for alighting that next job. In other remarks, you have to get back to the basics and make it.
Back to the basics
Over my 20-year line of work connected to database support, I have leased and supervised well over 50 DBAs and have questioned or a least estimated the recommences of thousands of candidates. Believe me, when it draws close to the interview method, there isn't much that astonishments me anymore. However, I have discerned a small number movements that perform worry me. Instead of marketing themselves for a better line of work, IT folks today are deducing a sense of a right -- a "You want me more than I want you" mentality. The market circumstances have sanctioned DBAs to slide from self-confidence into downright arrogance. Let me be the first to caution you, this is an stance that will get you into trouble!
The intent of this portion is to re-evaluate the basics of the interview method and what I (and I am definite most leasing managers) will view for in a candidate. My expect is that this portion helps as a reminder to some that any kind worthwhile (including good jobs) ought be worked for.
With that said, let me complex on what I in person view for in a candidate.
The resume
Most line of work sites will declare that this is the most valued first appearance you can make. In the days when one could without difficulty look frontwards to to get hundreds of recommences for any bestowed location and have to tapered it down to a smattering of applicants, this may have in certainty been the case. But now, when an Oracle or SQL DBA posting may generate only a smattering of rightly certified recommences, the recommence surely not able to look frontwards to to retain as much burden as it one time did. However, it is still the first step to getting discerned and ought be taken seriously.
There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of Web sites with free templates and tips for recommence writing. My not hard suggestions is to use them! With all of this free suggestions and aid out there, there is basically no pardon for a weakly typed resume. The recommence is the first appearance you will make of yourself, so make it a good one.
I view for a small number key constituents in the resume:
  • Cover message -- This is still an unquestionable must! Express why you are fascinated in the location and why you sense you would be a good fit. Back up the cover message with established items from your resume. Do not use a template that will fit just any job: make the cover message precise to the job you are questioning for. This may demand you to perform some homework.
  • Brevity -- While the days of one-page recommences are arguably over, the least thing you can perform is have a 10-page recommence detailing everything you did over the last 20 years. Instead, purpose on the trades in the past three years or the trades that are most pertinent to the location you are applying for. Make definite you sum up in the first half of the first page. If you don't ensnare a recruiter's onvolvement straight away, often remnant of the recommence is pointless and sadly will not be read.
  • Readability -- Never submit a recommence in basic, unformatted text if not you are instructed to perform so. Use MS Word (it is the development standard) and better yet, embrace an HTML or .pdf variety to be safe. Do not get too flamboyant with the font. To be secure, use 10-point or higher Arial or Roman fonts. The foundation line is: If I not able to read it, I perform not read
  • it! Neither will a recruiter.
  • Accuracy -- Spelling and language are very valued and faults are just downright inexcusable. Remember, DBAs are looked frontwards to to be professionals and as such ought be competent to convey in writing. Do not trust curse checkers only as these can omit some misplaced, yet in the right way spelled, remarks and grammar. To be secure, have a small number population that you hope proofread your recommence for you. An surplus set of eyes can often ensnare faults that you may overlook.
Scheduling and handset screens
It is unexpected to me how more population today are not very flexible when it draws close to modifying their private plans to accommodate an interview. What communication are you conveying when an interviewer bids to give up his or her private time and you turn down to interview because you have an aerobics workout on that day? The communication you are conveying is that your private life is more valued than the job and/or the financial gathering, that you are inflexible and ungrateful and that you perform not truly care about the job. Is that aerobics workout truly more valued than remnant of your career?
In augmentation to being flexible, you ought in addition be spirited, courteous and courteous to every one you chat to through this method, and I intend everybody! I have often turned away candidates basically because they were short or just basic vulgar to my administrative accomplice or recruiter.
The first interview
In my view, none is as valued as the first appearance of the interview. There are more means to spoil an interview, but I put forward that you chase these minimal steps to avert a speedy rejection:
  • Arrive on time! This looks like apparent adequate, and yet is the No. 1 justification I will turn away a candidate. My suggestions is to arrange ahead and recognise where you are going a least one day beforehand. Know what the traffic and parking is like, how long it will take to get through security, up the lifting devices, etc. Leave no boulder unturned and be organised for the worst.
  • Call ahead! If you look frontwards to to be late, a least have the certified courtesy to call ahead to recognize clear fault and let the interviewers know. My lead of thumb: five minutes late with no discern equates to a missed interview. Being courteous of others' time is a not hard subject of appropriate enterprise etiquette.
  • Prepare and rehearse! Know what the location is, what the leasing director is looking for, who you will be questioning with, etc. If you can foretell the varieties of queries you will get and rehearse your replies, you will have a many advantage. Again, there are some many line of work sites that climax the normal queries that you can look frontwards to, which often include:
    • Describe your strengths.
    • Describe your faults (often the hardest to chat about).
    • Talk about a time when you went atop and past to succeed.
    • Talk about a time when you failed. What did you learn?
    • Why did you/are you moving out your prevailing job?
  • Do not bash! Avoid taking any bid to bash your prevailing or earlier financial gathering, person in accuse or co-workers. Bashing other people propels a communication that you might be a malcontent in other jobs. Dale Carnegie one time said, "Any fool can judge unfavorably, criticize, and bemoan -- and most fools do." Please, don't be a fool!
  • Research the company! Know what the financial gathering does and be geared up to request good queries -- queries that not able to be replied by knowledge eagerly obtainable on the financial gathering Web site. Instead, purpose your queries on the financial gathering culture. Believe it or not, about 50% of the applicants I have questioned had no thought what my financial gathering did. Not recognising the financial gathering presentations over self-confidence and arrogance and is definite to get you conveyed household without farther consideration.
  • Be confident! Never underestimate your abilities. If you perform not recognise the reply to a thing, accommodate it. Focus alternatively on your skills to find the reply and your eagerness to learn.
  • Don't be arrogant! Yes, you can be overconfident to the purpose of being considered as cocky, inconsiderate, and even rude. A good lead of thumb here is to purpose on the assembly accomplishments as well as the "me" accomplishments.
  • Avoid negotiating too early. Sell your worth before talking about wealth and titles. If you can avert it, not ever consider wealth until you are definite that you have confirmed your value. I often propose collecting dialogues for after an offer is made.
10 assertions to avoid
Just for pleasure, here is a table of the apex 10 things I have discovered freshly in discussions that will definitely get you extracted from consideration. These are real quotations by real candidates:
  1. "I can't start for another five weeks as I have a get-away planned."
  2. "I don't truly want the job, I am just observing if there is a thing better out there."
  3. "Can we bind it up? I have to move out for another interview."
  4. "I can't make a handset interview at that time. I have to work out, then I have to devour, clean, watch video and depart to bed."
  5. "You want to make me an offer today, I have numerous other financial gatherings fascinated in me."
  6. "I loathe the population I work with, they are a cluster of [expletive removed] idiots!"
  7. "I shouldn't have to advise you, you should now recognise why I am the best fit for this job."
  8. "I truly don't like to be on call or work off-hours, it obstructs with my 'me' time."
  9. "Can you advise me what your financial gathering does?"
  10. "I took a class on SQL adjusting, but it was way over my head!"
The follow-up
The follow-up can make or smash the every part of deal and yet is often the most ignored constituent of the interview process. Let's view at a normal scenario. I interview three candidates that are all very strong. As I weigh the picks of who to lease, I get a actual good give thanks you message in the posted item from nominated applicant A. Candidate A thanks me for my time, declares she savoured chatting to me, reiterates the things we chatted about, advises me why she is a good fit for the location, and delineates the worth she is self-assured she will add for my company. I get a not hard canned "thank you for your time" message from nominated applicant B and I learn none from nominated applicant C. Who perform you consider I will hire? Who would you hire?
Conclusion
In synopsis, if you like to land that next vision job, you ought re-evaluate and recognise the minimal beliefs on how to interview. You ought in addition consider to be systematic, courteous, self-assured, courteous and certified right through the every part of process.
Employers like applicants to be spirited about toiling for them. The least thing you could perform is to take for given that you are in demand or that you are a exact fit, that all you have to perform is issued your recommence and celebrity will find you. Sure, you may get a job like that, but risks are that it will not be a good one. There are abundance of good trades out there, but the best ones have to be worked for and not taken for granted. Follow the minimal beliefs summarised here and don't omit the exact possibility that you truly want.