Friday, December 1, 2000

Interviewing for a Lotus Notes developer position


By Dan Simmons

As a Lotus Notes recruiter, I'm very familiar with what's involved when interviewing for a position as a Lotus Notes developer. Despite all the hype and conflicting information surrounding the interviewing process, there are actually just four basic questions employers typically focus on during job interviews. If you answer these four questions well, your chances of acing the overall interview are high.

Before an employer tosses these questions at you, you'll need to lay the groundwork for a solid interview, and the key here is preparation. Use the Internet to research the company with which you're interviewing, review the company Web site, and check to research Lotus Business Partners. If all that fails, call your stockbroker. Employers know when candidates have done their homework, and candidates can use the company information they've learned in questions they pose to the employer at the end of the interview.

Question 1: First impression time

Most impressions are made in the first few minutes of meeting someone, so it's important to answer the first interview question well. Over 50% of interviews begin with, "Tell me about yourself." The interviewer is hiring you as a whole person, not just your skill set, so he or she has a right to know something about you. Start with three to four sentences about your home, social, and recreational life.

Now throw the ball back into the employer's court. Ask him to describe the position in his own terms. Then, remain quiet and listen. You've now answered the first question, gotten off the hot seat, and prepared yourself to answer question two.

Question 2: Your basic background

Now you'll likely be asked, "Can you do the job?" This question may assume several forms but they all boil down to the employer attempting to ascertain your basic qualifications. You're set to answer this question, since the employer just told you his or her exact requirements for the position. Describe your number of years in both information technology and Lotus technology; share the number and types of applications you've written in the last 12 months; explain your experiences working solo and as part of a team. If you can determine how to solve end-users problems and make them feel comfortable with technology, talk about it.

Walk the employer through your typical workday. Explain the percentage of time you spend in new development, maintenance programming, and system administration. Discuss your skill levels with LotusScript, Domino, Domino.Doc., JavaScript, Java, Notrix, NotesPump, DECS (Domino Enterprise Connection Services), DHTML (Dynamic Hyper Text Markup Language), Lotus Administration, and other programming languages such as Visual Basic and C++. Describe the manner in which you receive your work, whether you are handed "specs" from a Project Manager or whether you gather requirements by meeting directly with end-users. Close by describing your education and industry certifications.