Interview questions for Enterprise Architect
Answering these 5 questions the right way will help you land the job.
Enterprise architects (sometimes referred to as IT architects or business architects) are responsible for creating, maintaining and evolving the enterprise architecture framework so its aligned with and supports an organization’s business strategy.
Often reporting to the CIO, enterprise architects have grown as a percentage of tech management from 2 percent in 2009 to 4 percent in 2013, according to a Forrester Research report. And salaries, too, are on the rise, reflecting both the increasing demand for enterprise architects and difficulty to hire. According Computerworld’s 2015 IT Salary Survey, enterprise architects can expect to earn an average of $131, 589 — up 2.4 percent since 2014.
Ideal candidates are tech experts who are also well versed in business strategy — plus have the people skills to earn the support of the larger organization.
This unique combination of hard and soft skills — along with an increased demand in the marketplace — makes these professionals a challenge to hire. Hiring managers look for candidates with depth and breadth; a proven track record of accomplishments; and advanced technical and soft skills, according to the Forrester report.
“You want to go into an interview showing that you have versatile skills; that you’re technical, but a good communicator; and that you excel at problem solving, ” says Jessica Stoner, senior technical recruiter at IT staffing firm Mondo.
1. “Tell me about what you did in your last/current company.”
Hiring managers, in this case often the CIO, want a candidate with a proven track record of accomplishments who can take the organization to a new level of maturity, the Forrester report says. The challenge in hiring outside their current organization is that outsiders start off as unknowns, rather than individuals with a demonstrated ability to make things better. This question is designed to give the hiring manager insight into your qualifications and ability to execute.
Your response to this over-arching question should highlight your successes while demonstrating many of the qualities and skills essential for enterprise architects.
“Use specific data to highlight your accomplishments, like timelines, how much you were under budget or how under deadline the project came in, ” says Blake Angove, director of technology services at recruiting company LaSalle Network.
In addition to your accomplishments, entwine details about your technical and business-oriented sides, Stoner says.
“You want to show the hiring manager how versatile you are with your communication skills, your business skills and your technical skills, ” she says.
2. “What tools or techniques would you use to manage enterprise data?“
Hiring managers use this scenario-based question to gauge how your enterprise architecture philosophy fits with the company’s needs, Stoner says. Your answer should include — but shouldn’t be limited to — specific examples of tools and practices that you’ve used in the past.
“You’ll also want to discuss technology you haven’t used that may be applicable in this scenario, ” she says. “You want to show that you’re educated on what’s available in the market, and that you understand the benefits in using something outside of your experience. This shows that you’re adaptable and intelligent.”
Angove says you should also discuss specifics from the architectural vision that you laid out in previous roles. “Talk about how you took a project from Point A to Point B, the project’s objectives, your role, the constraints and overall mapping, ” he says.
Key to this answer, too, is doing your research to understand the company’s technical landscape. “Highlight your past experiences in working with their technologies, ” he adds. “If they’re a Microsoft environment, don’t talk about Unix. Relate your landscape to the company’s landscape.”
3. “Describe a technology problem you faced.”
A large part of an enterprise architect’s credibility comes from the knowledge they bring to the table, the Forrester report says: “They gain knowledge through extensive hands-on experience combined with more work-related research than that performed by most other roles in the organization.”
“Architects stand out because of their deep and broad knowledge, ranging from technical esoterica to an understanding of business drivers and processes, ” Forrester says.
Detailing a problem you faced with technology helps the hiring manager assess both your technical and problem-solving skills, Stoner says. This question might also test your ability to relay information both to technical and non-technical audiences.
To tackle the question the right way, first give an overview of the problem you faced in simple terms, Stoner adds. Then get into the nitty-gritty: Include specifics like bugs, and highlight what you did to change that architecture to make it more functional and more productive, she says.