Question: What would be a reasonable guideline(s) to use when reviewing recommended job descriptions for various IT positions in a school setting? Not being a professional, how does one match job qualifications to various hardware, software and/or network responsibilities?
The IT Guy says:
The answer depends on your perspective, I suppose: whether you are the prospective hire wanting to interview or the employer looking to hire. In the first case, as a person looking for a job, consider the scope of responsibilities identified in the job description and search for information about other individuals on staff to provide IT support. Is there a team already in place, are students used in some capacity to assist, or does everything fall on the shoulders of one or a few individuals? At interview time, ask what sorts of network administration tools are available which permit remote control and updating or cloning of individual workstations. Tools like these are lifesavers, especially when personnel are in short supply. Find out if comp time or extra pay is available for work performed in addition to regular work hours. Will the organization pay for you to attend additional training, conferences, and earn additional certifications? If they are serious about the expertise and capabilities of their IT staff, they should.
If you are the prospective employer and want to put out a job description for an IT position, it is generally a good idea to state that Microsoft and Cisco System Engineer certifications are preferred. Be aware of the going salary for individuals within your area with these credentials: they vary widely by geographic location. Use the suggestions above for prospective employees to prepare information and answers for the interview. When interviewing, make sure you have some IT professionals on the committee, asking direct, pointed questions that the candidate should be able to answer. With technology, it is easy for someone to "talk the talk" but be unable to "walk the walk." When visiting with references, ask for specific examples of network administration tasks and PC troubleshooting which the candidate has performed in the past. Ask about the training regimen and continuing education opportunities which were available to the individual, and whether or not he/she took advantage of them.
To really find out if a candidate knows his/her stuff, arrange for a performance based evaluation of his/her knowledge and skills on a computer set up with the same server operating system used by your organization. Candidates for positions involving network administration should be able to readily demonstrate basic server tasks like setting up new user groups, new user accounts, defining new directories for sharing as either public shares or hidden shares, configuring a print queue, and configuring IIS for web sharing and remote FTP. If your organization is running pre-Windows2003 servers, ask specifically about all the default configurations which the server comes with that need to be disabled for security reasons, especially if it is to be used as a public web server.
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