Interviewing for a position


I was helping my client with hiring resources for an SAP PI project. It made me think a lot about how we are hiring people for projects.

I’ll not explore personal fit, just how you figure out if the person you are hiring has the right skills. In the test I’m referring to experiences or questions that I could get the idea of asking a potential candidate in regards to SAP Process Integration (PI).

I guess it is the Agent Principle game. Where the Agent has some skill or knowledge that the principle does not, but it is the principle that has to make the decision. How can the principle with limited knowledge about the field be able to figure out if the agent is qualified?


Credits: Ealco Kruidenier 2005

The agent can be any future employee, freelancer, contractor or consultant which or which company wants the agent to join the team. It is therefore the agent’s job to be as confident as possible and sound as good as possible, without lying. I clearly remembered the first time I was going on an SAP PI (XI at the time). I also had to seem like I knew a lot. Since then it has been a lot easier to interview, because I had some background.

The Principle could be a (project) manager how want to get a goal achievement and the only way to achieve the goal is to get a person more on the team.

We can all say that we are super experiences in SAP PI and have worked with it for a period. It does not tell anybody how much we know and have done.  I can have worked with SAP PI for 8 years but may just have done three simple scenarios and most of my other work has been on something else.

The skills will only reveal itself after a period has been spent on the project and the skills for the project is not there. If it’s like hiring an employee, it can be very costly. I can remember what it cost to hire a person or a freelancer, who was not qualified or the wrong person. A guess can be 10.000$- 100.000$.

So what kinds of options does the principle have?

  1. Ask questions to reveal what they knew about the subject.
  2. Test them

1) Questions

The principle does not know about the subject in a deep enough way to make the agent reveal if he know the subject. It was my task to help with the process. I was going to ask some questions that reviewed how well the agent knew the subject. There will be a post on some of the questions in the SAP PI space, but here it is just generic.

I had to create a question that was able to specify how deep the agent knew about the tool. I think I found a good question but it may be difficult to see if you are using the right question and if it works. It has to be somewhat general so it may be something that the person has experience before.

If you don’t have the skills it may be a good idea to find a person just to help with the interview and asses if the person knows the subject well enough. It will be worth the investment if you find a good senior person, how does not have any investment in the project.In question you can also ask and see how well they can reply with your solution. Since you don’t know the subject they may be able to just say some nonsense, which can sound like they have read the slides for the product.


2) Test them

Away can be to make a small test that will take 30 minutes to solve. It needs to be something that the agent can prove that he can understand a business or technology requirement and turn it into something that works. It is not a way to get free consulting, but more a way to get an idea of how well the agent understand the presented concepts and what is available.

For PI it could be to create a few field mappings for to configure a web service scenario.To make a good test you would have to have somebody who knows the topic can assess if the solution is good. Notice there can be many solutions to a problem, so it may be a different way than you had thought of.

Testing can be as the Facebook puzzles. I heard that Facebook would post a puzzle and everybody how can solve it can come to a job interview. In this instance, we are focusing our efforts to solve some problems in real life that may occur in the end goal.

I just saw a job description for a PI job where the goal was to do support of some different B2B interfaces and here could a good test be to make some small modifications in the mapping. To show they understand the setup and complexity.

I hope that this gives some idea next time you are in a hiring position. Let me know what you are considering when hiring a person for a job.


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