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There are a ton of blogs out there that tell you "questions to ask when interviewing a SharePoint person" which will help give you a baseline for what you should know technically.  However, technical interview questions are somewhat easy to answer if you have done enough of them.  I am not talking about the technical part of the interview, i'm more talking about how you are selling yourself as a SharePoint person to a client, which is important for you, but mostly important for the client in which you are interviewing.

Rule 1: Know your specialty

The SharePoint platform is huge.  I mean HUGE.  You can specialize in most anything and just because you are a specialist in one area, you can't be grandfathered in as being a specialist in another area.  For example, I specialize in SharePoint as it pertains to Social Networking and My Sites.  Does this make me an expert in Web Content Management (WCM) or the Business Data Catalog (BDC)?  OF COURSE NOT!  Being honest, I haven't done much with the BDC, don't claim to be an expert, don't want to be (I'll leave that to Nick Swan).  :-)  Know your specialty, be an expert in that specialty and then expand out.  This can win you a lot of points and can give you a way to provide your client or potential employeer real value.

Rule 2: Try to understand what the client is trying to do with SharePoint

Ask questions during the interview, but don't give advice unless asked.  Giving advice without fully understanding the environment that you are in can easily cause you to tank the interview.  Even if you have answered everything perfectly, you can easily leave an impression that you are careless and don't think through situations if you "shoot from the hip".

Rule 3: Do not BS your answers

You would think that this is obvious, but folks I'm here to say that this happens more than not.  If this is applicable to you, one of two things are going to happen. 
Scenario 1: There is somewhat of a lack of understanding of the SharePoint platform in the management levels (e.g. the people that you will likely talk to at some point in your interview) that you can likely use some snazzy buzzwords and make it through.  However, when the rubber meets the road and you actually have to deliver a solution, you can quickly get in over your head and will either not deliver or deliver something that doesn't scale, doesn't work, or is just screwed up.

Scnerio 2: During the interview, someone that is interviewing you understands the platform and knows you're blowing smoke.  End result: you won't get the gig and could hurt your chances for future gigs in that segment of the market.  Let's face it, being a SharePoint person is a small community of people (compared to larger technologies like ASP.NET, C#, etc.) and they do talk (we're collaboration people, remember!). 

Bottom line, just be honest.  If you don't know, just say so...Being in an interview (of any type) is not like an evening at the improv.

Rule 4: You can't save the world with SharePoint, don't sell it that way

Yes, the SharePoint platform can do a lot and offers a lot to the enterprise.  Don't try to go in and cure cancer with SharePoint.  SharePoint implementations require a lot of planning and design to ensure success.  That's right folks...Despite the myths, SharePoint IS a platform that is constantly evolving and companies must plan for this.  This rule is more for companies than for people that are interviewing.  Bottom line is that if someone tries to come in and solve all of your business problems with SharePoint in something crazy like 2 weeks, you might want to think very hard before making the decision to hire.

Rule 5: Constantly hone your craft

As with any product or platform, you are going to experience some ups and downs with SharePoint.  Use this experience and learn from your successes and mistakes.  It will help you in the future.  Also, highlight these experiences in your interview.  How did you solve a problem when your SharePoint application took a nose dive?

Hopefully that it will give you something to think about as well as help you out when you go for that next SharePoint job.

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2008 9:28 PM SharePoint | Back to top

Comments on this post: 5 Rules to Live By When Interviewing for a SharePoint Job

# re: 5 Rules to Live By When Interviewing for a SharePoint Job
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Excellent advice. Do I see a potential SharePoint interview questions post coming soon? :)
Left by Deepak on Jul 15, 2008 4:54 AM

# re: 5 Rules to Live By When Interviewing for a SharePoint Job
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Very good piece of advice.

I have put some question for SharePoint interviews on:

Hope they are useful
Left by Manish on Nov 04, 2008 11:01 AM

# re: 5 Rules to Live By When Interviewing for a SharePoint Job
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I think this change will be great. If anything it will only make it better. I’m sure it will make it much faster also. Thanks for the great article and the information.

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Left by Cheap Medical Insurance Plans on Dec 10, 2010 11:31 AM

# re: 5 Rules to Live By When Interviewing for a SharePoint Job
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