'Good problem-solving skills are more important than specific technical experience. Smart people can learn new technologies quickly.'

By Sonia Lelii
Dice News Staff | August 2008


Ed Murray is senior vice president of R&D and operations at Gomez Inc., a Lexington, Mass., company that helps businesses measure the performance and availability of Web sites. As a 24/7, Software as a Service (SaaS) business, Gomez typically hires software engineers, quality assurance workers, customer support representatives and database administrators. Murray is usually the final interviewer during the hiring process. During a recent conversation, he offered insights into what a hiring manager looks for in tech job candidates.

How do you approach an interview?

I have been doing this for quite awhile. I have been managing software development teams for 28 years, so I have a standard list of questions I use in any interview. One of the questions I ask about is the types of challenges people faced in the past and how they have dealt with them. I don't tend to focus on the technical details, but rather attitude and motivation. Good problem-solving skills are more important than specific technical experience. Smart people can learn new technologies quickly.

What exactly do you glean from the 'challenges' question?

How creative people are and how flexible they are. Also, how they deal with pressure. Business moves quickly today and all parts of the business must be adaptable.

How do you judge a candidate? What do you look for in an employee?

Attitude and motivation first. For me, that's always important. I want people who are willing to learn what our business is about. I want people who are willing to work hard for our customers. I want people who are interested in intellectual challenges. Secondly, I look at specific background and expertise to see how (the candidate) fits the job.

What advice would you give someone who is starting a job search - whether they're just coming out of college or an experienced worker?

The answer is the same in both cases. It's important for candidates to understand what gets them excited. They have to understand that and they have to get the company to see that. Perhaps it's easier when you have more experience, but even someone who is fresh out of school needs to know what gets them excited. Time figuring that out is time well-spent. Enthusiasm shows in an interview.

Reach Sonia Lelii at sonia.lelii@dice.com