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Selling Yourself In A Enterprise Architecture Interview

        posted by , January 11, 2013

Enterprise Architects need to be able to sell themselves. After all, how can they possibly sell the value of Enterprise Architecture if they can't sell themselves.

These 7 tips for EA interviews will help to put you ahead of the competition.

1. Be Inspiring

Interviews are serious events. After all, business and careers are at stake. However, some candidates are so serious that they forget to be interesting. In fact, many candidates make the mistake of boring the interviewer to tears.

If you can show that you are passionate about technology and business you will have a major advantage over these crashing bores.

Before the interview think about what really excites you in your career — develop stories that show off your skills in these areas. Most likely, you will be be able to work these stories into your answers. Steering the conversation in the direction of your interests will help your enthusiasm to shine through.

cautions: don't get too dreamy — keep it realistic and EA related.

2. Be the solution

It is a lot of effort and expense to hire someone. Chances are the interviewers are hoping the candidate can solve big problems and make everyone's life easier.

Read the role description carefully and imagine the business problems that are driving the decision to hire. If you have the opportunity to ask questions — probe deeply into the problems the team is facing and the expectations for the role.

Give specific examples how you have solved similar problems in the past.

hints: Many EA teams are looking for individuals who can help with EA governance. It is easy to find candidates who can draw up IT blueprints — its more difficult to find individuals who can influence and sell EA.

cautions: Not everyone's expectations will be the same. Peers may be hoping you can reduce workloads, managers may be expecting you to bridge some skill gaps on the team etc..

3. Meet an old friend

It's an old trick to calm the nerves before an interview: imagine that you are meeting an old friend. This trick can also be helpful to establish rapport with the interviewer. After all, people like people who like them.

Try to look at the interviewer in a positive light. Imagine how rewarding it is going to be to work with the person. This will make you more relaxed and personable — you might even manage a few appropriate jokes.

cautions: Don't be too informal — dress well, shake hands, maintain good posture and eye contact etc... Jokes are an excellent way to establish rapport but keep them appropriate — it's not a comedy show it's an interview.

4. Be interested

It is more satisfying to hire someone who seems to really want the job. It is surprising how often companies will hire less qualified candidates just because they seem to have more interest, enthusiasm and energy.

cautions: Don't appear to be desperate. Enthusiasm for the job and delivering results is good. Enthusiasm for the pay check, benefits or job status should be downplayed.

5. Give concrete examples

In an interview, nothing is less convincing than answers that lack concrete examples. Which answer is better?

Yes, I am good at giving presentations. Everyone says I am really great at explaining things. In fact, I was probably one of the best communicators at my previous company.

Yes, I am good at giving presentations. A few years ago, I was asked to present at the Acme CIO conference. I decided to talk about the emergence of new SOA security standards. I spent a lot of time in preparation. I wanted to deliver a simple, memorable message — one that would appeal to the audience. The presentation was a success. In fact, I have been asked back to the conference for the past three years in a row. It has been a great experience that has allowed me to expand my network of contacts.

Anyone can claim to be good at something. However, if you fail to provide concrete examples your message may be less than convincing.

6. Follow productive paths

When giving concrete examples — remember that there will be follow up questions. If you stumble on follow up questions it may look like you did not understand your own project — or worse that you are fabricating your experience.

Select your concrete examples from projects and initiatives that you understand inside out. If you are not comfortable explaining the business, system, data and technical architecture— then it is best not to use it as an example. Also be prepared to explain the difficulties you faced and the business benefits of the project.

The last thing you want to is to lead the interview down a path that you are not comfortable explaining.

7. Prepare Sound Bites

Many candidates go through an entire interview without ever saying anything memorable. Preparing a few simple sound bites can help make you the most memorable candidate.

Sound bites can be used to show how well you understand critical concepts.

SOA is a widely misunderstood concept, really it is just a set of design practices used to build highly reusable services.

Sound bites can also be used to sell yourself.

One indication of SOA success is the level of service reuse. The first SOA service I ever implemented was used by around 50 consumers. I have always been an advocate for a quick-win approach to SOA.

This article is an installment in the ongoing series how to win your next job.

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