Companies interviewing enterprise architects look for a comprehensive technical skill set, along with communication skills and a passion for the job.
"There are a lot of people that interview and are passionate about something else," says Craig Kapper, senior regional vice president for Robert Half International. "You can be an okay communicator, but if this is your life work and you are wildly passionate about it, you'll probably get the job."
A firm foundation in one or more current architecture is essential. These include service-oriented architecture (SOA), model-driven architecture (MDA), event-driven architecture (EDA) and object-oriented design (OOD). During an interview, you should be able to explain your experience and give concrete examples of where you implemented it. You need a solid understanding of software development processes and methodologies, and should be able to explain TCP networking, firewalls, routing and load balancing.
Here's some key questions you can expect to be asked.
Give examples of enterprise architecture you designed and what type of protocols you used.
A successful answer includes an explanation of your experience and the methodology that was leveraged, middleware that was used to interact with complex environments, and lessons learned.
How do you see IT supporting new business initiatives?
This question attempts to reveal not only your experience and knowledge, but the vision you hold to transform and implement business strategies.
"The enterprise architect must be able to see big picture, the forest as opposed to the trees," says Sandy Lambert, managing director of recruiter Lambert and Associates.
What advice would you give server side Web developers wanting to ensure new code was secure from external attacks?
"Enterprise level work is inevitably about security," says Kapper. With security a major priority for an organization's infrastructure, enterprise architects must have a solid understanding of current security processes, including encryption, authorization, authentication and public key infrastructure.
What problems do you expect to encounter with an organization that has a "siloed" structure? How would you deal with it?
This is an organizational question that will be specific to a company's network. Lambert asked this specific question to candidates for Citibank in order to learn how they'd connect silos of a large and diverse infrastructure and enable the enterprise vision.
What kind of cloud computing work have you done?
This is the first question Vasanthan Dasan, CTO and vice president of engineering for the Armada Group asks of enterprise architects during interviews. He's interested in hearing of how they see their role in the ongoing trend in cloud computing and migration.
"The trend I've seen over the last three years has been organizations moving applications, infrastructure and network into a hosted cloud model," he says. "I believe that trend is going to continue for the next ten years as the majority of it infrastructure is moved to a hosted model."
Even if cloud computing experience may be on a candidate's resume, Dasan asks this question to learn about a candidate's experience and knowledge about cloud computing in his or her own words.
Describe how you migrated an application in a traditional architecture to the cloud.
Dasan follows up with this to see how a candidate solves problems and approaches cloud migration with a specific architecture. At times he'll even ask the candidate to demonstrate by drawing code and designs on a board.
"I'm looking for why they chose these methods, what features they included, what options and how they go about deciding certain components," he explains.
Prioritize the following criteria for a new code design based on importance, and explain your reasoning: performance, ease of maintenance, code accuracy, ease of use, and ease of adoption.
This one's tricky, since the right answer ultimately is what the client thinks is important. However, an honest assessment and identification that the right answer lies in an organization's needs is helpful.
Draw an example of the architecture of a high transaction website or database, and explain it.
This will test your knowledge, quick thinking ability and communication skills. The interviewer will look at load balances, Web servers, scalability, data modeling and among other things.
What enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have you worked with?
Kapper also asks, or follows up, with related ERP questions such as: What platforms have you used for ERP implementation efforts? What ERP modules have you been specifically responsible for? What ERP tasks were you assigned to? What kind of network protocols do you use?
How did you measure success and moderate performance in one of your projects?
"I'm really looking for good communication skills," Vasan says. "The ability to articulate, model the problem, extract solutions, define interfaces between components, and have good knowledge of what's possible implementation-wise, and what's available and tested in the marketplace."
What is the best project you ever worked on?
What did you contribute to the project?
-- Chandler Harris