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Q: Need to create a technical question for an interview committee ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Need to create a technical question for an interview committee
Category: Computers
Asked by: derek81-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 26 Jul 2006 13:25 PDT
Expires: 25 Aug 2006 13:25 PDT
Question ID: 749824
I work in the IT department at Los Angeles Mission College, which is
part of the LA Community College District.  Yesterday, my supervisor
told me I will be on the interview committee to select an applicant
for the position of Computer and Network Support Specialist.

She said that the question should be both situational and technical,
and should take the applicant at least two minutes to answer.  I guess
that means she wants me to give them an example situation where
something comes up and to see how they would decide to resolve it.

What I'm looking for shouldn't be overly specific on one thing.  Such
as like asking "How do you configure the mnet protcol on the Extreme
Alpine 3808?" would be too direct and specifc, but maybe more along
the lines of working on one project and something else unexpected
comes up.  Like describing how to situationally manage the problem by
maybe assigning others to help, but also the technical way to fix it

The duties for this job, as defined by our district, is outlined at this site:

However, at the college level it will basically be this:
-maintain multiple HP Proliant 360/380 servers running Windows 2003 Server
-maintain three Active Directory domains, which involves DNS, user
accounts, access rights, policies, etc
-maintain several Extreme Networks switches, such as configuring the
ports or setting up IP routes
-supervise three Assistant Computer and Network Support Specialists
(my position) by assigning work requests through a web-based helpdesk
system and to follow up on the requests they complete
-ensure through centralized programs that the Symantec Antivirus Corp.
Edition is runing the latest version on all workstations
-to a limited extent, do desktop support for faculty and staff. 
computers are either Compaq or HP desktops, with Windows 2000 or XP.

I'm not a very creative person.  I'd rather just get back to fixing
computers and I don't really want to do this but I don't have a

If you need any further clarification on anything please let me know.
Subject: Re: Need to create a technical question for an interview committee
Answered By: keystroke-ga on 26 Jul 2006 15:02 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I feel I can answer this question after personally being in the same
situation as you.

You are right that a bit of imagination will go a long way in
answering this question. After reading over the JOB DUTIES you listed
I am going to work primarily on this as the basis for designing the
interview question

"A Computer and Network Support Specialist provides technical support
in the maintenance and operation of local area networks and uses the
full capabilities of a wide range of computer hardware and software to
design and implement information processing, reporting, control and
management systems for a major organizational unit at a college or the
District Office.?

This says to me that the Network support specialist will not be tasked
with installation of Active Directory, DNS, DHCP or any other
infrastructure based hardware but purely the support of systems when
they fail.

On a side note, I think I am the perfect candidate for your job vacancy :)

This is the question I would pose to a candidate (I will also add some
extra smaller questions which can show a more in depth knowledge). I
am also assuming that all PCs have access to the internet without
interruption and are Windows XP based. (This question should not an
experienced qualified support technician long to answer).

Here goes

"You have been tasked with the installation of 20 new Windows XP
machines and a brand new 24 port Extreme Networks switch, you have
been told this job is of great importance and must be done rapidly in
order to facilitate the new department that is opening the next day at
short notice. Available to you are 3 Assistant network support
specialists, all of which are currently working on other jobs. You
know that the installation and update of these new PCs will take a
single person much longer than the 1 day you have available, you also
know that the people available to you are working on other tasks. How
do you assign the tasks to people (yourself included) in order to
maximise the effectiveness of your department but also ensure that the
installation is completed successfully?

After the installation is completed you find out none of the newly
installed PCs are able to access the internet or join your network
domain but they are able to communicate with each other successfully
by their IP address and NETBIOS names. How do you go about diagnosing
the fault on the local PCs?

After some experimentation you find that your DHCP server is issuing
an incorrect DNS server address. Who do you assign the task of
remedying the fault to and why?"

My responses to these questions would be, 
I would personally take control of the Switch installation as this is
part of my job description, as specified here ?maintain several
Extreme Networks switches, such as configuring the ports or setting up
IP routes?.
After assigning myself this role and knowing that the job is too big
for one person I would find out what work each of my support
technicians had for the day, work out what was the least important or
who could afford to be away for the day and reassign work to the other
technician who currently had the most important jobs. Otherwise I
would place the least important work on hold to be completed when the
other technicians came back. I would take at least 1 (depending on
their ability) or 2 technicians with me to install the PCs.
Once the PCs were physically installed one of the technicians could
then return to his normal duties and 1 would stay with me to finish
the installation.

This should provide the quickest and smoothest install for the PCs and
allow me to keep as many support staff on duty as possible at all

The second problem I would diagnose in the following way.
1.	As the PCs can communicate with each other I know the problem
cannot be an IP issue, a switch issue or a hardware error. I know that
NETBIOS is working fine so I know broadcasting is working fine on the
LAN. This leads me to believe it is a problem that is not on the LAN.
2.	I would run an ipconfig to display the current IP settings of one
of the newly installed machines. I would then try pinging the default
gateway and all other important servers to ensure communications were
working and see if any of the servers were at fault.
3.	If the servers were ping replying ok I would then start to ping the
internet to see if it was a problem with our router or with the
website I was trying to visit.
4.	Once diagnosed I would then find the best person to fix the issue
and ensure that my installation could continue as planned.

The final part of the question I would answer as follows
I would assign the final part of the problem to myself, as a Computer
and Network Support Specialist it is part of my job role to maintain
three Active Directory domains, which involves the DNS servers. I
would diagnose why a possible incorrect DNS server was being
distributed and find out if the server was just momentarily
unavailable (thusly normally available during the day) or if the DNS
server field of the DHCP server has been configured incorrectly and
the wrong DNS server is being distributed in the DHCP replies. I would
then find out the correct information from a senior support technician
and then fix either the DHCP or, unless someone is working on the DNS
server, fix that to prevent further disruption to the network.

From these questions you are able to see if the candidate is good at
delegation and good at problem solving with a good analytical mind for
completing problems relating to both local PC and networking issues
that can affect the entire network.

The one thing I must say is that my answers are by no means
definitive. There are plenty of other correct answers out there.

I hope this is of some use to you, if you have any comments don?t
hesitate to ask and I will help all I can.

derek81-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
that is a great answer!  and you were correct, the position we are
interviewing for does NOT setup new servers, only maintains them.  as
installing new ones is the role of the next higher position.  i was
thinking about that as i wrote the question, but forgot to include it.

and i dont think you'd want to work for our district. sure the
benefits are good, but the pay isnt great, and theres alot of
politics. but is where you'd go to sign

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