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Interviewing AX Candidates – What I Look For (Part 1)

As I mentioned in the post about tamping someone up on AX, I look for candidates who have expertise in AX Performance, AX Application (at least one particular module) or AX development.  Because of this, we have to bring in the right people on the team and ask the right questions to determine if our candidate is the right fit.

Ultimately, I'm looking for the following qualities in a candidate (outside of technical capabilities)

  • Confidence - this is one quality that can be seen pretty quickly in the interview - does the candidate project themselves in a professional manner?  When we ask technical questions in the interview, the candidate has to be able to state the answer with confidence and conviction; if they can't, I'm not interested.  Our customers demand that we can answer their questions, and saying "I think that configuration setting is right" is worse than saying "I don't know".  One former colleague at work is so sure of himself when he answers questions, that he convinces people of his answer every team - he's right 99% of the time, but even in that 1% he's able to convince people to follow his lead.  We purposely test for this case in the interviews as well; despite our intention to try to find experts across development, application or technology, we ask every candidate our "advanced" questions across each area.  We don't do this to try to make them look bad; we do this to see how they react when they don't know the answer to a question.  I can't tell you how many people have guessed at the answer to the question "What is the difference between a clustered and non-clustered index in SQL", but if we ask you that question, and you don't know, just say "I don't know".  Please.  The best answer is "I don't know, but I will look it up and get back to you by the end of the day" or "I don't know, but I have a colleague who's an expert at this and I'll ask him and get back to you by tomorrow".  If they can answer the technical questions in their wheelhouse and the other questions like that, they pass the test.
  • Desire to Get Better - you can call this willingness to learn, work ethic, etc., but when it comes down to it, I'm interested in the person who wants to continually get better at what he knows and how he does his job.  If he wants to get better, I don't have to worry about him putting in enough hours.  If he wants to get better, I don't have to worry about how he'll react to a new release.  If he wants to get better, I know he'll be interested in taking constructive criticism as an opportunity to get better.  I try to get a window into this in the interview by asking the candidate "What do you hope to learn in the next months and years"?  During the interview, I want to find that spark of interest of the area of their biggest passion, so I can see what's going to drive them to continue to learn and get better.  I also don't want someone to walk into a job interview and be over-confident.  If he comes in saying he knows this stuff and knows he'll do a great job, that's not an indication of a desire to get better.  Is this person going to be able to take constructive criticism if they have it all worked out.  These folks also aren't going to fit into the team dynamic very well.
  • Trustworthy - in the job as a Dedicated Support Engineer, we position ourselves as a "trusted advisor" to the customer.  Our job is to work in the best interest of the customer long-term, even if that means telling them things they don't want to hear.  We ask questions in the interview process to understand the candidate's past experience in this area.  It's not yet a fool-proof system, but I don't want to hear about "I did this for the customer" and "I did that", I want to hear how he worked with the customer to make the customer more successful in the end.  I have no tolerance with people who I can't trust to do what's right for the team and the business.  If he wants to find ways to get the "most" out of his expense reports or find ways to make personal gain out of business, I don't care how good he is at Dynamics AX, I'd rather just start over with a new person.  I haven't had experience with this in the past - fortunately - and I don't have a question on the interview list to catch this, but it's something to watch out for

Teamwork is another big part of the interview, so I thought about listing that as another bullet, but I think if the person has each of the three qualities above, he will be a good team fit.  He will understand his teammates sometimes know better that he, so he'll be willing to reach out for help.  He will be trustworthy so the rest of the team can depend on him.  He will have confidence so the other team members can put him onsite at their customer without being concerned about how he'll represent the team.

Part 2 will cover the typical interview questions we ask - again, we're looking for technical experts who can serve as trusted advisors to customers, so our questions will be aimed at that end. 

Let me know if you have any feedback.

Eric Newell

Comments (2)
  1. If you've read some of my latest posts , you already know what we look for in Premier Field Engineers

  2. Please read part 1 first to see what we're looking for in candidates. Here's a list of some questions

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