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Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the everyone-always-says-sense-of-humour dept.

Windows 454

andy5555 writes "I am hardcore Unix (and recently storage) fan responsible for our server department. Most of the servers run (you guessed it) different types of Unix. For quite a long time, Windows servers played very little role, but sometimes we get applications from our business departments which run only under Windows. So it seems that we have to take it seriously and hire a few Windows fans who would be able to take care of the (still small but growing) number of Windows servers. Since I am Unix fan, I have very little knowledge of Windows (some of my teammates may have more, but we are not experts). If I have to hire such a person I would like to find someone who is passionate about Windows. It is easy for me to recognize a Windows fan, but I don't know how to test his/her knowledge. There are some sites with typical Windows interview questions, but everybody can read them and prepare. How would you recommend the hiring process to proceed? What should I ask?"

cancel ×


UNIX Differences (4, Funny)

PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) | about 2 years ago | (#41183303)

When looking for a Windows expert you have to look past the first appearance. I am a hardcore tomato sauce fan. And when I say hardcore, I mean it. Tomato sauce is the base of any pizza we all so like. But beyond that Windows admin can look almost anything, and still be completely usable. Just like your favorite pan pizza.

The best way to illustrate differences between Windows and UNIX admins is the way they use space. The base of the system is usually laid out differently. In UNIX you have / whereas in Windows you use C:\ and other drive letters. It's like the difference between normal italian style pizza and american pan pizza.

Let me tell you a story about a friend from my childhood. He loves Linux. You could say he is Linux power user. Back in the 90's I was over his apartment and we kept playing this Nintendo64 game called GoldenEye. It was awesome. Split-screen multiplayer and even while we could see each other, we still loved it. The levels were laid out beatifically and played out very nicely.

But at some point you obviously become hungry. Then I got an idea.. "Let's call some pizzas over!", I uttered and tried to reach to the phone. However, it was way too far. I crashed down from the couch and now I was rolling around on the floor. My stomach was so big and soft that it kept me in motion and I rolled over the table where the telephone was, crashing it on the floor and breaking it. I said "damn it".. And we didn't get any pizza until we went out in the open. But we still did it, proudly. We were the goldeneye playing pizza bros!

I think the main point is that whatever obstacles you may find with your new friend there is always way to get around them. With pizza.

Re:UNIX Differences (5, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#41183343)

Your post confused me until I saw your username. Well played.

Re:UNIX Differences (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183403)

Fuck... slashdot is becoming reddit!!!

Re:UNIX Differences (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183695)

Your post confused me until I saw your username. Well played.

Nope, it's still rubbish.

Daria said it best (4, Funny)

Sectoid_Dev (232963) | about 2 years ago | (#41183591)

There is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza. Thank you.

Re:UNIX Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183741)

Split-screen multiplayer and even while we could see each other, we still loved it.

So you're saying that it was a lot like a half-and-half pizza, with pepperoni on one side and mushrooms on the other side.

Re:UNIX Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183831)

p.s. As a quake player at the time, I thought goldeneye was shit.

Re:UNIX Differences (0)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | about 2 years ago | (#41183931)

I played Quake

I played Goldeneye

Did you have any friends to play multiplayer with? Was kind of like a LAN party for people who didn't know what a LAN is. Alcohol was usually present. Win.

Re:UNIX Differences (0)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | about 2 years ago | (#41184047)

GoldenEye would have been decent with a reasonable field of view and mouse/keyboard controls. The joystick on the N64 was just not adequate. It was like playing Quake with mittens on.

Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41183321)

I'm not sure how you should start the interview. But I'm pretty sure starting it off by taking a holier-than-thou condescending attitude towards anyone who would sully themselves by being a Windows server admin, and referring to them as a Windows "fan" instead of a Windows professional, is definitely the way to NOT start the interview.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183411)


Also stay away from people who have all the certifications. It just means they went to the class and passed the tests which are pass/fail. Most of the tests are online (and a good source of questions btw).

A good one to lead off if you are looking for a windows admin. Why would you use a workgroup vs a domain? How would you setup an active directory tree with 200 computers and 5 different departments?

Also find someone who does both Linux and Windows. More than likely they will have to jump into your shoes when you are on vacation. Also loose the attitude. They are computers they get your job done. If you go into with that attitude they will resent you in under 2 months and be looking to get out. Do not create a we vs they in your office before you even hire the guy...

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41183847)

Stay away from those that put emphasis on their certs.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (4, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41183869)

Ask a few network questions. Can you make a subnet? What's the difference between a tree and a forest? AD is important, what UI tool do you use to manage it and you may want to ask a few questions around permissions, and security. As the parent said, you can find them online. Certs are fine, but make certain the candidate actually wen to a real school to get training and not some cert factory. A bit of Cisco education is also useful as a side with your Windows main course. For sure they should have a clue about Linux and BSD (if you get someone who can do Solaris and another *nix flavor or two all the better.) They should have more than a passing understanding of Windows 7, maybe XP (depending on how many XP diehards in your environment.) If they are already playing with Win 8, you have ago getter. Server 2008 for sure. Perhaps Server 2003. You can ask about virtualization, powershell, net tools, command line interface, its all good. A well rounded engineer will know Exchange, SQL Server, .Net, Sharepoint (she said with a pained grimace), and Outlook.

Contact a local IT company that does windows and ask them how they hire their guys.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

Darth_brooks (180756) | about 2 years ago | (#41183989)

As someone who just finished an MS cert bootcamp in May, I'd say you may want to reconsider your stance. The days of the Paper MCSE seem to be going by the wayside. I did the Windows 7 Enterprise Admin course (MCITP) which is a split course.

The first part is "Configuring Windows 7", which ends with a certification exam (Microsoft Certified technical specialist, Configuring Windows 7.) I'll admit, I went into it without studying as hard as I could have, mostly because I had the attitude of "Ooooooh, Configuring Windows 7. I hope they don't ask me where the *Control Panel* is..." When I took the exam, I was promptly blown out of the water, and ended up retaking just to pass. They're pushing Branch Cache very heavily, and they expected some reasonable experience configuring WSUS via GPO.

Now, neither of those are shocking technologies, but they're definitely a *huge* step up in how they're treating the 'entry' exams. They seem to be making a big effort (according to the guy that ran the course, the questions have been changing since the start of the year) at getting away from "memorize the question, get the answer down to a 50/50, and guess your way in."

I'm not ashamed to admit that I failed the 60-686 exam for MCITP and still need to take it. Out of 11 people who took the course, all of us took the 60-680 MCTS exam, and 7 of us took either the 60-686 and 60-685 exam (combine course). I was the only one who passed *any* of the exams. We had some fairly sharp people, and the common theme was that we were all sorta surprised at how tough the exams were.

Just my two cents, maybe we were all just a class full of derps.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

joelleo (900926) | about 2 years ago | (#41184057)

I have to disagree with those asserting *snicker* certs are worthless. Take them into consideration, but validate that they know what they certified on. They don't "just mean they went to the class and passed the tests" they can actually validate real world experience with the tools and environments, but that needs to be _proven_ to the interviewer. The best way to do this is to sit them in front of a computer that has access to a test environment and tell them to do stuff and see how they perform. Admittedly, this requires an understanding of what they are doing on the interviewer's part, but to completely exclude a large swath of potential candidates because of someone's misinformed perception of certifications would be a misstep, in my opinion.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 2 years ago | (#41183421)

I am one of them. At work, I administer Windows servers, at home, I run Linux servers. I have had experience working with both in various environments, from small companies to large media organisations, & I don't think I've ever seen someone as less of a person because they can't administer *nix or Windows servers.

If I was to be interviewed by a condescending arshole like the OP, I'd walk out of the interview. Working for someone who looks down on you for having greater knowledge than them is far from ideal.

Let's face it, because the OP doesn't know how to administer both *nix & Windows, that makes them less of an admin than someone who does. Not only do they need to find someone, they need to pay someone who knows how to interview for the role.

The first thing I learnt in admin/support is that if you specialise, you limit your options, for both solutions & future employment.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (4, Insightful)

justforgetme (1814588) | about 2 years ago | (#41183799)

I fully agree with you on the attitude part.

On the decision part I'm not so sure. I mean sure you will limit yourself if you are going to only look for admin jobs on a specific OS but the truth is that the extent of a sysadmin's or opadmin's responsibilities will limit your specialization automatically through the passage of time. Sure for entry/mid level positions you don't have a problem, most of your responsibilities can be brushed over in an afternoons reading, but for high end/profile positions your chances are with a specialized attitude rather with the jack of al trades attitude.

Surely these are only my personal opinions, other people might disagree.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | about 2 years ago | (#41183839)


BTW, I'm not very sure that the OP actually is condescending, he describes himself as a hardcore fan, so maybe it's just the general attitude in the workplace, in which case I envy them!

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41184005)

but for high end/profile positions your chances are with a specialized attitude rather with the jack of al trades attitude

My experience tends to flow the other way. Specialized jobs usually are not what most people I deal with need from day to day. Those jobs are usually one time jobs that once are done you don't need full time anymore unless something goes horribly wrong. Like setting up Active Directory, an initial windows cluster, installing and configuring Exchange servers, DNS, etc. Usually they require the experience to do it right and you only need it once , maintaining them has a much lower threshold. I also find in general when you hire someone for something so specific you take a big risk at them not being good at that or anything else.

I tend to like to hire jack of all trades. Someone who knows enough about DNS not to screw it up. Enough about Exchange to make sure it's operating correctly. Enough about Active Directory so someone can add and remove users and do minimal changes. Someone who can backup and restore a database but doesn't need to understand how to design index and data cubes, etc.

I'd go for someone who knows a enough about Linux to get around and has worked somewhere at least managing a medium infrastructure and depending on my needs can answer some basic to medium in complex questions about (OS, IIS, MSSQL, DNS, Active Directory, Clustering, file management and maybe some general scripting skills).

O yeah and I'm with everyone else when they say the OP should drop the attitude. Windows, treated properly can require the same level of skills administering Linux does, in some cases there is even more to learn. Remember everything isn't handled by a GUI, everything there is a GUI equivalent for there are probably 3 or 4 other ways to do it without and better so you actually need to know much more sometimes.

Re:Well, unlike you, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183431)

Some people still care about enthusiasm. Those people also don't wear a suit and tie which you probably find appalling.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183459)

If you read the OP, you will see that he calls himself a Unix fan in the first sentence. I'm not sure how this translates into a holier-than-thou attitude---it sounds to me more like a welcoming environment, where people are fans of particular types of technologies.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183469)

As usual the windows "professional" appears to be unable to read anything but what they want to read.

First sentence "I am hardcore Unix (and recently storage) fan" - see some people actually have these terms they use to refer to both THEMSELVES and others in a semi-playful manner. While a windows "professional" may be too concerned with politically correct phrases, Unix people tend to be a little more laid back day to day.

Please feel free to ignore common sense and continue down the road of being a great windows "professional"

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41183519)

Actually, eliminating candidates that are so full of themselves that they object to being called a "fan" would be a great way to conduct the interview.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1, Insightful)

devilspgd (652955) | about 2 years ago | (#41183623)

Sure, go ahead and hire someone who thinks of themselves as a "fan" instead of a "professional" and see how that goes.

In fact, why not mock all of your potential candidates to see how they handle abuse and only hire people who "pass"?

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41183793)

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Anyone who considers being referred to as a "fan" as mockery is too fragile to work with.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Informative)

mykroft42 (831331) | about 2 years ago | (#41183527)

I'm confused? The OP repeatedly refers to himself as a unix "fan". Clearly he doesn't intend the term as an insult. Unless you think the OP is some sort of "dirt-eating Tauron" himself. I think you're just trying to create a fight no one was looking for.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183559)

The guy called himself a fan, multiple times. Obviously he doesn't consider it a derogatory term. I agree it's very odd term to be using for people, and I'd likely be somewhat offended if someone called me a fan of some technology over another. Personally I hate all technology, it's just that some of it I hate less than others. None of it approaches "fan" status.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Insightful)

black6host (469985) | about 2 years ago | (#41183569)

Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

Most definitely. I was a server admin for clients of mine who were too small to have one full time. Ran Linux on my own desktop, also had Windows and Linux servers running on different machines. I could deal with either. I wasn't a "fan" of anything. I was a professional who took care of my clients. Unix, Linux, Windows, it didn't matter. What mattered was my knowledge and making whatever they had chosen to run work. And work well.

As far as how to gauge their skills.... You won't be able to, as the good ones will know more than you do. Pay attention to what they have done in the past, contact their previous employers. Certs don't mean much, I've run across a few that didn't know anymore than was needed to pass the tests.

Maybe pose problems in a Linux domain that you are familiar with, ask them how they would handle that in Windows. Ask them to explain how it works differently from what you're doing. Ask them general security questions that should be known by all server admins. Firewalls, etc.

If you're in charge, you need to be able to assess their work. And that depends on the type of Win servers you're going to run. Outward facing? Database? In-house application only?

So much depends on what the servers do. Someone may be a great domain admin, but suck at the database side of things.

I know, not much help. But please don't call them "fans" :)

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1)

black6host (469985) | about 2 years ago | (#41183661)

Sorry, read Linux instead of Unix. Same principles apply though.

Best answer I can give you: if you're good enough, you'll be able to tell if they're good enough. When I talk to someone I have a pretty good feel if they're as good at their job as I am at mine. Got a carpenter buddy. He's a damn fine one. I'm not, but I still know he is.......

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1)

defaria (741527) | about 2 years ago | (#41183605)

Why would you view being called a "fan" of an OS as being equivalent of "some sort of dirt-eating Tauron"? I'm one of those who knows both Windows and Unix and I prefer Unix. If you called me a Unix fan I would not be offended in the least. Note to the OP - steer clear from such pretentious pricks like this guy.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (5, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 2 years ago | (#41183727)

Because windows professionals are not fans of windows. Really is anyone a "fan" of windows as in they actually like it? You can be a Unix Linux or even OSX fan, but you can really only be a Windows Professional. Similar to the oldest profession it is only done for the money not the enjoyment.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 2 years ago | (#41183893)

There is a difference between personal choice and business need. To be a fan is liking something by personal choice. To be a professional is to work with things that are required to get a job done. I personally like Mac OS, but I use and support other operating systems because the tools or services needed to complete a task are there. A professional understands that "right tool, right job" mentality and accepts that broadening his/her horizons is a good thing that will serve his/her career and help them better appreciate the things about which they are fanatical.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183635)

This. There may be the Linux fan around the corner who'd just love to integrate them Windows servers (and clients(?)) into your Unix environment, using his or her intricate knowledge of Windows. (How much s/he likes or dislikes Windows is irrelevant, as long as s/he knows the intricacies.)

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (3, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | about 2 years ago | (#41183665)

I'm not sure how you should start the interview. But I'm pretty sure starting it off by taking a holier-than-thou condescending attitude towards anyone who would sully themselves by being a Windows server admin, and referring to them as a Windows "fan" instead of a Windows professional, is definitely the way to NOT start the interview.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

I wholeheartedly agree. As someone that has worked supporting several flavors of *nix, and versions of both Windows and Mac OS server (and client) systems I would say that the OPs environment is hostile based on the description. It's certainly not an environment that I would recommend to any of my Windows Server admin colleagues to walk into. There is little place for that kind of "I-only-work-with-Unix-and-the-rest-is-beneath-me" attitude. Personal preference is fine, zealotry is not, especially when in conflicts with the needs of others or is used as a weapon.

Now, if you want a quality Windows admin you look for the same things you look for in any admin; experience, education and certifications, in that order. I know plenty of enthusiastic Windows "fans" that are NOT admin material. Liking something (fan) and having a deep understanding of something (professional) are completely different things. If you don't know what to ask then you have clearly not done your needs requirements for the position and should not even advertise the job until you do. This process will not only help you define the requirements for the position, clearly define the roles and responsibilities (and overlaps for support coverage) it will educate those involved in the process as to what to look for in a candidate. It may also be helpful to contact your Microsoft representative, not only to assist in your edification, but to help define the scope of what you may need. That's what a professional would do over just a "fan".

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183669)

*speaking in a Thurston Howell the Third voice*

Why when I go to an interview and there's some Unix or Windows or *gasp* Linux professionals there, I just have to wash my hands after shaking hands with them! It's just soooo beneath me.

Apple professionals aren't much better. Once, I went to an interview and they served the wrong Champagne! Can you believe it! I stormed out of there! There is NO way I will work for a company that doesn't know what to serve on an interview! And then there was some people who snickered when I asked if the car I'll be given was a Bentley or a classic Rolls Royce - the PEASANTS! How dare they!!

Anyway, we all - including you people who admin Windows and Linux - need to keep our standards.

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41184007)

At least fans only blow, and don't suck if you look at them from the outside! From the inside, the point of view reveals the opposite!

Re:Well, not calling them a "fan" might be a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41184051)

He called himself a Unix fan, was he condescending towards himself as well?

slashdot !!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183355)

Windows 8 Is 'a Work of Art.' But It's No Linux
Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert?

fuck you slashdot

AC/DC (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183365)

Find someone who goes both ways or he/she will be constantly running around behind your back lobbying for more windows machines.

Re:AC/DC (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41183615)

Find someone who goes both ways or he/she will be constantly running around behind your back lobbying for more windows machines.

I sort of agree with this. A dedicated Windows Admin will probably want to excel at what they are good at, instead of being the guy who has to work on the bastard child of the UNIX group. However, many UNIX admins have had to deal with Windows in the past, and should be able to operate Windows without too much trouble.

What you might want to do is get someone who is interested enough on your team to do what it takes to get access to the Microsoft support infrastructure. It may mean getting them some MCP certification or something. I think that the certs are useless themselves, but there are some benefits you may need one of them to get access to. From there, I'd just follow MS suggested default guidelines for operating their OS and have your admins keep track of any patches or whatever than needs to come out.

There are some very competent Windows admins out there, but as a group, there is a lot of the cert mill types out there too. You don't want someone like that, and the good admins will probably want to stay in Windows shops.

From my experience, as long as the most you need is a basic setup of a domain or something, you don't need "Windows People" to do that. Your UNIX admins are more than capable of figuring it out with some tutorials and a copy of best practices. Although Windows servers are anything but easy to administer, they do have the advantage of being written with a GUI that is very similar to the Desktop OS from the ground up, and so a smart tech should be able to figure out how to get around without needing to memorize command line stuff.

Oh stop neckbearding (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183367)

Best bet is to actually conduct a interview, review the resume and check references. You know the way you are suppose to go about hiring people.

What I would ask! (0)

Dareth (47614) | about 2 years ago | (#41183375)

Is it OK if RMS [] pees in the Koolaid?

And for those of you who think this isn't a valid question, it is a legitimate test for a sense of humor.

two windows BS stories in an hour... (4, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41183377)

Timothy, go to your room! Don't come down until you've thought about what you've done!

Stop with the parenthesis, technical people! (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183379)

Stop posting so much stuff inside parenthesis! If it's a complete thought, just make another sentence. It's not difficult.

Re:Stop with the parenthesis, technical people! (4, Funny)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | about 2 years ago | (#41183439)

((Obviously) a Lisp fan (as well))

Re:Stop with the parenthesis, technical people! (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 years ago | (#41183453)

Stop reading (and complaining about) /. nontechnical person.

Re:Stop with the parenthesis, technical people! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41183651)

Stop posting so much stuff inside parenthesis!

Stop being such an OCD punctuation nazi. You're ruining the SNR here.

I get the impression .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183383)

... that perhaps you shouldn't be involved in the hiring process, here ...

Professional, not fan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183393)

What is this 'fan' shit? You want to hire someone who has studied Windows architecture and know how it works. Not someone who wants to blow the OS.

Re:Professional, not fan (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41183477)

What is this 'fan' shit? You want to hire someone who has studied Windows architecture and know how it works. Not someone who wants to blow the OS.

then it's pretty probable they'll end up with some unix guy who also just happens to like gaming and has a windows side affair. I mean, pure-windows guys aren't that likely to know how it works, those are the guys to go for if you want arguments about if windows server kernels are meaningfully different than regular windows line kernels or if ms just raised an arbitrary connection limit on them.

otoh. I heard delta makes good fans, but I read also somewhere that steelers fans are awful.

Re:Professional, not fan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183637)

then it's pretty probable they'll end up with some unix guy who also just happens to like gaming and has a windows side affair.

LOL, you refer to the kind of hacks that create a Windows "domain" that I get to come in and unfuck. Neckbeards, keeping real professionals employed for years.

All you really need to ask. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183405)

Can you reboot a server at the First sign of any trouble? Yes/no

Sanity and a lack of mythos tentacles... (5, Interesting)

jimmifett (2434568) | about 2 years ago | (#41183435)

Someone who has exp with multiple versions of windows servers. 2000 is a good cutoff point. They should understand Active Directory. Thoroughly. If doing anything web based, know about asp and .net configurations, as well as how to use the new (awful) IIS manager. If storing dll components for software over the network (including aforementioned web based stuff), they should know about permissions hassles of trusting policies from network drives.

Exchange and or MS SQL experience is also a plus, but only if the windows boxes will be running them.

Consultancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183441)

If you don't have anyone who can actually assess the answers to interview questions about Windows, hire an external consultant from a company that does specialise in this sort of thing to do the technical interview. That way at least you will have a better chance of hiring someone with the right skills for the job.

Wrong approach (5, Insightful)

jdastrup (1075795) | about 2 years ago | (#41183445)

The answers I ask when hiring a system admin are typically not OS or vendor specific. I'd rather have someone intelligent and clever, who can then pick up any technology thrown at them. This philosophy has worked incredibly well. But, if you want someone that has memorized the MCSE tests, then ask the Windows-specific questions. But when it comes to troubleshooting or real-world environments, you have no guarantees.

Wrong answer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183973)

By this logic, any of the current Unix experts they employ would also be the right people for the Windows server support, yet clearly they already know that isn't the solution. Here the OS distinction matters, because they want to hire based on that distinction (and for good reason). If you're hiring your first admin, you might want them to use any technology thrown at them. By the time you employ several experts in one area but lack experts in a new area, you're better off getting people with expertise in that new area.

Re:Wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183981)

This is exactly right. I don't care what the work is - linux, windows, teaching, dancing, baby eating - if you get someone with basic knowledge of the area (at least), but who is supremely quick on his/her feet, and who can adapt to new technology in a very short amount of time, you're golden. The problem is, what question does one ask during the interview to assess general cleverness and cognitive ability? How does one assess the random-human-who-is-sitting-across-the-table's ability to adapt to new technology (other than the blunt edge question, "How do you adapt to new technology")?

Only need one question (5, Funny)

slapout (93640) | about 2 years ago | (#41183479)

Ask him about a Windows problem. If he says "Have you tried turning it off and back on again", hire him.

Addendum to that question (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 2 years ago | (#41183877)

Ask him about a Windows problem. If he says "Have you tried turning it off and back on again", hire him.

Especially if he says so in an Irish accent. It helps if he's also tall and lanky [] .


Make sure they can script (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#41183483)

There's plenty of Windows people who know how to click "Next... Next... Next..." but no more than this.

Well and good if that's all you need, but you'll get someone a lot more productive if they know a bit of Powershell, VBS and batch scripting.

It's Easy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183493)

Q1. Can you clicky with the mouse button?
Q2. Are you a fucking retard who'll sit gawping at MSDN all day?
Q3. When can you start?

Ask Slashdot: (1, Insightful)

InlawBiker (1124825) | about 2 years ago | (#41183497)

: Are all these "stories" posed as questions really fooling anybody? I see less and less interesting news and more stories designed purely to provoke chatter. Oh boy, Unix vs Windows should get lots of posts! Maybe next time you can work Apple in there too.

It's like the blogger feedback ploy - end your crappy blog with a question and more people will respond.

Re:Ask Slashdot: (2)

Revotron (1115029) | about 2 years ago | (#41183963)

Your comment isn't getting any replies. Perhaps try closing with a personalized question - like, "Does ending YOUR crappy blog with a question get more people to respond?" That will help you to facilitate enhanced social media 2.0 engagement and boost your Klout score!

knowledge... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183521)

Ask him if he know:

1) How to use regedit.exe
2) What is a GPO
4) WMI(this shit will help a lot if you need his help on monitoring)
5) WSUS, ISA and PowerShell
--- and you will obtain a medium-level professional --

And will filter 80% of the Windows guys on your "audition"

Re:knowledge... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41183617)

Ask him if he know:

hey, I know what those are, enough to BS a unix guy, and I'm a unix guy.

And will filter 80% of the Windows guys on your "audition" :headpalm:

Concepts (3, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | about 2 years ago | (#41183565)

Find someone who understands how things work & why they work; there are tens of thousands of Windows admins with MCSE (now MCITP) grade qualifications who don't actually understand why they do any of the things they do, just that Action A fixes Problem B. Also, find someone who can script - Powershell preferably, but VBS if you have to - as a lot of Windows admins are far too reliant on the GUI which can obviously slow them down a lot for some types of tasks.

Don't bother asking questions to test Windows "knowledge" because they don't really tell you much about the person's ability, just their memory. Give them scenarios you've encountered with your Windows estate and ask them how they'd deal with them; you don't even really need to know that much about Windows yourself to be able to judge answers to those kinds of questions and they give you a much better idea of how well the person actually understands Windows, which is much more important than reciting the FSMO roles or knowing how to do an Authoritative Restore.

You probably can't test them.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183585)

Unless you have the Windows knowledge.

So my suggestion is to do your background checks, talk with previous employers, look for people who have years not months under their belts professionally, and make sure they fit what you have in terms of windows needs/support requirements. If you have a lot of legacy, look for older hands who know older Windows.

Also, you might want to seriously think about cross training people. If you are going to be a Unix/Windows house, you want people on both sides to cover job roles, be able to take holidays, cover for sick and so on. I'm guessing you are in the real world so are facing virtualisation challenges as well. You'll need the hetro skill sets there too.

To be honest, Some people have whined about 'Windows' fans being used. If your budget it tight, and your windows structure is small, you might well be fine with someone who is a fan, and has a bit of experience. If you are enterprise, and have your going to have serious amounts of stuff going on, you'll need an old hand who really knows theior stuff, but that comes with a price tag. Small / Low end deployments of Windows are I would say easily enough handled, even by your own team. Its when you cross over into heavier enterprise level that you need the good stuff.

Unix sysadmin (3, Interesting)

Jonner (189691) | about 2 years ago | (#41183587)

Find someone who is competetent at Unix system administration and willing to learn. Regardless of current Windows knowledge, it's more likely she will be able to learn the nuances necessary in a heterogenous environment than the average Windows admin.

Re:Unix sysadmin (4, Interesting)

undeadbill (2490070) | about 2 years ago | (#41183737)

This comment is spot on. I work in a heterogeneous shop, and our best results have been in training a Unix admin to take on additional Windows roles. It isn't just about being good at Windows, there are plenty of Windows professionals who can fulfill that role as a consultant or FTE. The problem is finding one who can integrate Windows environments to work well with your existing Unix infrastructure, much of which probably doesn't need to be duplicated under a separate Windows domain. To do that well, you need someone with a deep Unix background as well as the Windows training.

That's easier than maintaining Unix boxes (1)

Vincent77 (660967) | about 2 years ago | (#41183641)

When there is a problem with Linux, you fix it. When there is a problem with Windows, you replace it. Make sure you have updated Windows images - this is possible by making a daily image of the system in VMWare is alike. Tweaking of software like databases is possible, but it is cheaper (in terms of hourly price) to just buy more memory and more processing power. Actually these tricks do pretty well on Unix-systems too as an extra solution. As you cannot look into the code, you have to trust others. So make sure you have a good firewall and antivirus-software. I'm not tryng to make fun of windows here; Windows is a black box, so you need to treat it as such.

Simple (2, Interesting)

V!NCENT (1105021) | about 2 years ago | (#41183643)

1. Kernel name of Windows 7 (NT6.1);
2. Why is file transfer since Vista so slow (introduction of user space driver)
3. Why is Windows 7 faster than Vista (it is not; gui has higher sceduling priority)
4. How much more ram does Vista consume, compared with XP? (wrong; it's less, but why?; Vista caches like preload).
5. Is NT POSIX compliant? Since when and how?
6. What is the main difference between the TCP/IP stack in XP and Vista, other than IPv6?
7. What compiler does Microsoft use, to compile Windows? (not the one they make, hint)
8. Ask something about Powershell
9. Difference between win32 and winRT;
10. Is NT a Microkernel or monolithic (microkernel with servers in kernelspace)
11. Is NT x86 only? (also ppc and titanium and arm)
12. Was Win32 the only planned API to support and why (NT was designed to support a lot more API's, so it could embrace, extend and extinguish)
13. What is the name of the DE? (explore.exe, there are other DE's and shells. Aero, the 3D explore.exe since Vista also supports plugins for desktop effects, like Compiz, since Vista).

Goog-... DuckDuckGo your ass off, I'd say ;-)

Re:Simple (1, Informative)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41183947)

No mention of Powershell? No mention of rolling out software / updates / OS images / workgroups / booting from the net / roaming accounts / mounted shares / active directory? Yeah, that's a useless list of BS you posted, primarily focused on irrelevant client side crap -- I mean: Drag and Drop File Transfer Speeds? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

That, or it was meant to be funny. If it was, you're trolling pretty hard.

Tauron, interesting word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183655)

" Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death."

Tauron, interesting word. The only English reference to this I could find is from Battlestar Galactica. So it is a fictitious word. So no, Windows Professionals are not and can not be dirt-eating Tauron's. But adding the word Professional to the word Windows doesn't make them the right people to hire for the OP. Other than that nothing else to add here.

This is cruel, but (5, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#41183675)

You will be faced with a lot of candidates. After you've culled the ones with actual experience and positive or neutral recommendations, this is where you can start in phone interviews:

1. Ask them to describe DHCP. An amazing number of candidates will not do well with this. Extra points for the ones who can expand slightly and describe the implications of static addressing, but they are probably older than you are l;ooking for, despite the blatant discrimination that implies. Deduct for those who treat this question with disdain - they are perhaps being too imperious to get along, and getting along is second only to knowing stuff. Maybe more important.

2. Ask them to discuss Active Directory design from a high level, the forest and trees, for example. Big points if they ask about your current structure. More points if they discuss the disadvantages of ripping up your current directory. Deduct points for those who seem to use an axe in the forest. You willl know.

3. Ask them about roaming profiles. No, you aren't using them, but you're interested in both their general reaction and their questions about why you are asking at all. Deduct points here for those who go 'poo-poo' and describe their loathing for roaming profiles. More deductions for focusing on the limitations.

4. Did any of them ask about your environment? Did any of them perk up at the mention of Linux? Did any of them expand unprovked about Windows' servers potential for integration with a Linux enviuronemnt? More points to these. Fewer points to those who are not at all curious about yoru Linux environment, and how you got saddled with some mongrel Windows severs in the mix.

I would be very interested in this position if it is in the Phoenix area, but I love my pool, and besides, you already know me too well. Ah.

Re:This is cruel, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183763)

Did you get fired last time for being a general ass?

Look for more than Windows knowledge (1)

Bretski (312912) | about 2 years ago | (#41183681)

I am a UNIX admin (17 years now). Many Windows admins I've worked with have very little knowledge of networking concepts, Internet workings, and application development/architecture. An effective admin (UNIX or Windows) should have at least waist-deep knowledge of all of these areas. When one has a view of a "bigger picture," they can be an effective troubleshooter, and help in all many areas. The worst admins only know their piece of the puzzle, and are very good at pointing fingers to other groups when they cannot identify where the problem might lie.

Certified and Experienced (2)

Danzigism (881294) | about 2 years ago | (#41183683)

I disagree with those who say you should "stay away" from people with certifications. Perhaps that was true in the MCSE days because anybody could get one, but the competency tests they have nowadays are very thorough and are geared towards one specific subject. Therefore if the person has several of those competencies they probably know what the hell they're talking about such as Server Platform, Hosting, Mobility, Management and Virtualization, etc. You just have to look at what tests they have passed and whether or not it is relevant to what you need. I've seen pseudo experienced Windows Server Admins with no certifications or any clue how to apply MS best practices completely destroy a server. Like not using proper document redirection or storing user data from a Terminal Server stored on the C drive, etc.

I've never been one to prefer MS servers, but you are correct, sometimes it is essential when you deal with clients that use certain line of business applications and it really helps to get a technician that is familiar with administrative best practices. You also tend to learn more about how to use MS products in a business environment when you take the cert tests and how to sell their products. It's not just turning the server on and screwing around with stuff until everything works. You will save yourself time and money when you get a guy that can get the work done quickly.

Don't get upset... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183689)

When he gets paid more than you, has more marketable skills, is not a neck-beard loser. Windows professionals are in every case that I've seen infinitely more professional, understanding, and personable than freetards like yourself.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183693)

One of the best and most under-rated interview questions for Windows "Experts" is "If your IP address starts with 169 or 0, what is wrong with the computer?".

This question reveals, networking knowledge, protocol knowledge, windows configuration knowledge, and down and dirty knowledge of troubleshooting broken network connections via Windows. All critical for the "Expert" Windows tag.

No "Best Questions" exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183699)

What questions you should be asking should have less to do with specific knowledge of Windows, since any schmuck can memorize a book or set of questions. I've worked for a small repair shop for 5yrs and fixed thousands of computers, and honestly, most of what I fix day to day has little to do with how smart I am with windows, but moreso my ability to step back, analyze, and troubleshoot any number of problems. In the past 5 years, few problems have shared the same solution, except for basic things like testnig and troubleshooting hardware or virus/malware removal. Otherwise it is usually a slight variant on a problem I've seen before.

If it were me doing the hiring, I would at least ask these few questions.

1: Explain to me a problem in windows that you solved on your own without use of the internet, and explain the steps you took to resolve that problem, including any tools you used.

2: Explain a situation outside of work, non-computer related, that required you to solve a problem you had never enountered before. Be specific on the steps you took to resolve the problem.

3: Explain to me the function and purpose of the windows registry in a way that my grandmother could understand.

4: How many times have you installed a fresh copy of windows onto a brand new hard drive? Have you ever built your own computer? Tell me about what you have and how you built it!

Seems stupid, but you'd be surprised how many A+ /MSCE/etc/etc certified people we've interviewed over the years who, even though they could rattle off the transmission speed of USB and every CPU Socket type for the last 10years, the fact remains that many of them still couldn't troubleshoot their way out of a paper bag.

Look for the only thing you're going to get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183711)

Somebody who can click "next" until the "finish" button comes up, and that's about it.

ask him (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#41183731)

If he stands outside and looks in the windows or stands inside and looks out of them

At a certain level it s all the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183739)

Ask him how a kerberos token works
Ask him to read or write an ldap query
Make some weirdo folder permissions structure with exeption and inheritence, watch him apply
When, why use deny permissions
rename servers or make new ones with same name, or accounts, why, what s the difference
what s telnet, what s ftp, what s http, does he knows a few command to speak them raw via telnet
additionally ask him about vmware, vlans, san

That works the same with windows or linux, you ll weed out all the persons who knows a bit of windows but use winoptimizer2000 and think it s good.

Really a dovecot+postfix+spaassasin setup is annoying to set up, now try to make the same setup with 1 GB exchanges accounts, it s a pita too, he ll need the exchanges specifics, but he ll need the, universal server stuff "basics" stuff too and this you can check.

Ask them about their mouse skills (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 2 years ago | (#41183751)

I kid. Seriously, ask them about generic networking and server stuff (hw/sw) see if they can do some minor unix stuff. If you need specific skills (hpc/san) ask about that.

The problem is not necessarily platform for most people, it's understanding of IT concepts
  in general.

Also, make sure they can script and do basic stuff on command line

A good answer for a bad question? (2, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | about 2 years ago | (#41183791)

As inane as the question is, I can think of a pretty good answer: ask if they like PowerShell!

It tests several things that someone from a UNIX background would want to see in a Windows administrator: it shows that they like CLI and automation, it shows that they're up-to-date with Windows technology, and it shows that they prefer the "UNIX way". That last may seem counter-intuitive, but PowerShell follows the UNIX philosophy better than any flavor of Linux or UNIX I've ever seen. A Windows administrator that likes PowerShell is the kind of administrator that a UNIX administrator can get along with!

Re:A good answer for a bad question? (0)

codepunk (167897) | about 2 years ago | (#41183883)

I have spent a ton of time writing PowerShell scripts, it is a complete piece of trash. It has nothing at all over the power of the unix tool set.

Same questions that you would ask a Unix admin (2)

ewilts (121990) | about 2 years ago | (#41183811)

Whether it's Windows, Linux, VMS or ESXi doesn't really matter. The external differences boil down to syntax. If you find somebody who only knows the syntax, you're not going to be happy unless you're looking for a short term employee or contractor. You don't hire a Unix admin because he knows how to write a bash script - you find somebody who understands the importance of automation, the ability to document and test, and the ability to pick up new technologies. You know technology is changing so you need a person who can adapt. If you can troubleshoot the root cause of a system crash, it doesn't matter what OS you're working on and you'll pick up a different OS quickly. But hire an idiot that can't troubleshoot worth a darn and it doesn't matter if he's an RHCE, MCSE or VCP or holds all three.

If you find somebody that can't tell the difference between they're, there, or their or between its and it's, he's not on the learning curve you need him to be on. It means that in 20 or 30 years, he still doesn't care about quality and is too lazy to look things up. Those aren't good combinations.

First step, don't look for "passion." (3, Insightful)

conspirator23 (207097) | about 2 years ago | (#41183817)

Religiosity in Operating Systems is a character flaw, not a strength. Clearly this is going to be a hard concept for you to work your head around because you yourself are evangelical about UNIX. If you find somebody who is evangelical about Windiows, you're basically asking for interpersonal conflict as this engineer with "passion" for Windows is going to feel outnumbered and isolated if your whole team uses emotional language like you do.

What you' are REALLY looking for are skills and atrributes that are OS-agnostic while still demonstrating serious practical experience with Microsoft server products:

  • Does your candidate demonstrate an analytical, problem solving mindset?
  • Does your candidate show the ability to play nicely with others?
  • Does your candidate demonstrate a sense of personal accountability for the work that they do?

If you don't feel comfortable saying "yes" to all the above questions, then all the nuts and bolts technical stuff means nothing. Once these fundamental questions have been answered, there are some specific technical avenues to explore with your future Windows sysadmin:

  • Ask them how familiar they are with Powershell, and see if they can cite examples of where they used Powershell to create a technical solution or make their jobs easier through automation.
  • Ask them if they have ever worked to integrate Active Directory with other LDAP sources

There are a bunch of technical questions you probably need to ask that I can't possibly suggest to you, because I don't know the details of your envirionment. But these two are mandatory. Powershell is a scripting language developed to handle all kinds of administrative and automation needs for a system administrator, and it was written by two UNIX guys. If your future Windows admin understands and appreciates Powershell, they not only have a skillset that is going to be demonstratably useful in the future, they will be more likely to "think like a UNIX guy" than someone who went to an MSCE puppy mill. The AD/LDAP integration question is the one thing I know about your environment. If you're going to operate UNIX and Windows servers in the same ecossytem, some level of integration is inevitable and making sure the guy on the Windows end has the technical chops is essential.

" What should I ask?" (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#41183819)

Ask probing questions to ensure your candidate has thorough knowledge of the Hosts file. :-)

Search for an MCSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183851)

A MSCE is the equivalent to a MCFS (MacDonalds Certified Food Specialist) in the world of high-cuisine.

What should you look for in a Windows expert? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183867)

A pulse.

Fix that, then 'interview' the next candidate. Repeat until they come for you, but at least you'll be happy in the knowledge of the great good you have done for the world.

First, get it straight: (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41183905)

What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert?

So it seems that we have to take it seriously and hire a few Windows fans

The terms "expert" and "fan" are mutually exclusive when it comes to Windows: to know it is to hate it... and those truly experienced with it on a technical level are more aware than anyone else what a stinking pile of shit it is (I should know; I'm one of those sorry motherfuckers!).

IT is IT (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 years ago | (#41183923)

Before going into generalizations, it seems like the submitter realizes that they do not know enough about Windows. Given that, this whole discussion seems pretty irrelevant. The guy does not know Windows, so how is he going to know if the "Windows expert" is blowing smoke up his ass or not? He won't.

With that out of the way...

Just because a server runs Windows does not change the fact that it is a computer. There are some basic concepts that any sysadmin needs to have a handle on.

Backup and Recovery
Performance monitoring and tuning

A general rule of thumb is that anyone with less than 10 years of experience is not an expert, no matter what their resume and job experience might say.

Make the candidate prove that they know the concepts.

"In Unix, if we lose a system drive, we need to take some steps to recover it. What are those equivalent steps in Windows?"

"In Unix, if Jane is working on a system on a different subnet and she needs to access files on my server, we setup NFS and she connects to it with mount. What is the Windows equivalent?"


Don't forget education (1)

fluor2 (242824) | about 2 years ago | (#41183925)

Make sure candidates have a long experience with Windows. Writing scripts and monitoring/logging should have been used at work before.

But, running software is no longer a job just at technical level. It's about understanding customer needs and also to some extent really know how applications work. If you get hold of well educated people, their grades will show how well they can relate to new stuff.

And, stay away from people bragging their certification level. Certifications are not hard, just expensive. MCSE is really Must Consult Someone Educated.

See if they use Windows the way you use UNIX (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41183957)

A good Windows admin will "work around" the Windows-ism of it all and use the more UNIX-y features of it (they won't think of it that way, but they will). See how they are at whipping up quick VB or PowerShell scripts to do some little task (the same way you would whip up a Perl or Bash script). Check their problem-diagnosis skills - give them a hypothetical scenario (some weird proprietary service isn't starting at boot) and keep throwing up obstacles ("Guy: Well, I would check the services panel, make sure it was set to start automatically"; "You: Alright, you check that, and it is set to, but it's marked as 'stopped' and halts as soon as you try to start it"). Eventually he'll give up and say "there's obviously something wrong that's beyond my ability to fix, I would have to contact their support people", but see how many things he can think of to check. If he can think of a lot of ways something can go wrong, he likely has both experience and wisdom (unless he's rattling off bullshit, of course).

Another thing to look at is his WindowsUNIX skills. I'm working on a project now that involves getting applications running on both to work with each other, and that's not easy. Having a Windows guy who can grok Unix-speak would definitely be a plus for you.

What yopu need is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41183977)

A good Systems Administrator who happens to know windows.

It's simple really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41184019)

Say this:

freetard please!

If he laughs, hire him.

The most important question you need to ask (1)

codepunk (167897) | about 2 years ago | (#41184033)

Do you have experience with Virus scanning programs such as Symantec, etc?

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