What I’m looking for in a Developer Support Engineer
It’s that time again, campers.
A couple of years ago we introduced you to Kevin when he joined the support team here. This past spring, Jake came on board. I neglected to give him a formal introduction to the world, but he dove into the deep end (and is keeping his head well above water).
A few changes in the Atalasoft staff, though, finds Kevin moving over to the development side of engineering. We need a team of at least three people for support (not counting when the developers pitch in), so we’re in hiring mode once again.
There’s a big list of requirements and responsibilities, as well as “job opening speak”, some of which should be translated:
What it says: “The Developer Support Engineer provides frontline service to Atalasoft’s customers…”
What it means: You are going to talk to people. You will frequently be the first person they speak to. Make a good impression.
Says: “Anticipate, evaluate, and handle… questions and concerns…”
Means: You will often talk to people who don’t know what the problem is, and don’t know how to phrase their questions. You will have to read their minds.
Says: “Maintaining professionalism and a highly positive attitude.”
Means: Well, really. I shouldn’t have to translate this one, but I will. Some people will tell you that you, the product, the company, your town, your country, and your dog all suck. And you need to say, “Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will do my best to find a resolution to the problem.” And you will.
Says: “must work closely with the developers…”
Means: You’ll need to know how to communicate with people who often have their heads in the clouds who aren’t customers. Sometimes bribes are necessary.
Says: “Anticipate customer difficulty…”
Means: Let’s say you’ve never built a car engine before, and your mechanic says to you, “This isn’t so hard. You just need to index the timing gear indexing tooth so that that it is aligned with the mark on the engine block with cylinder #1 at TDC.” He’s been building engines for years, to the point where every page in his manuals are unreadable due to being grease covered. Try not to do that to your own customers.
Says: “Strong skills in troubleshooting and debugging”
Means: If you aren’t the curious type who frequently asks “why?”, this is probably not the job for you. You will need to figure out the problem, but also be confident in the level of your skills to get to the “I don’t know” point.
Says: “Ability to multitask and change tasks quickly”
Means: You will be frequently interrupted. Your interruptions will be interrupted. You will have Rick hovering over your cubicle wall, waiting to interrupt you, while you answer an email from Brendan that interrupted you during your IM questions from Joann. In other works, can you juggle?
Above all else, when you interview with me, or with anyone really: be yourself. If I hire you for this position, it means that you will be spending 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 2080 hours a year (minus PTO) interacting with me, Jake, customers, and the rest of the Atalasoft team. Although it’s tempting to be the “perfect” candidate, it’s better for you and me both to be honest. As Christina says, everyone might love bacon, but not everyone is a people person. It’ll also bring you back for consideration if something more suitable comes along.
Don’t give me the answers you think are “right” – I rarely ask those types of questions. Here’s a question I ask that doesn’t have a right answer: what’s your favorite movie? And trust me, I can tell in an instant if you’re just trying to guess mine.