How to Hire a Systems Engineer

How to Hire a Systems Engineer

If you need a problem solver, you need to hire a systems engineer. They are specialists in managing complex technological infrastructures to identify meaningful solutions when issues arise. Recruiting the right system engineer for your organization can be a challenging process considering this role, covers multiple stages of a development project and constant cooperation is needed with other team members. That’s why you should consider hiring for the right skills needed for the project you want to scale and prepare the right questions for the interview! We created this guide for you, based on practical experience, which will improve your recruitment process.

What is a Systems Engineer?

The term software engineering has been around since the 1940s. Back then, the U.S. Military introduced the systems engineering role to identify and manipulate the properties of a development system as a whole. When design solutions aren’t enough to improve system performance, you need new methods to look directly at the complexity of the process. 

Generally speaking, systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on designing; integrating; and managing complex systems over time. As a manufacturing process, the role focuses on diverse activities to achieve the best output with minimum costs. Systems engineers take care of reliability and logistics; risk management; optimizing methodologies; and coordinating team resources. This role combines technical and human-centered skills to manage several tasks of the development process.

By hiring a systems engineer, a company wants someone with an overview of the whole process to develop original solutions taking over various tasks. It can be hard to imagine exactly the skills necessary for the role. 

When companies are looking for a sound systems engineer, they look for someone to oversee software development to ensure the highest performance. Combining diverse skills, a software engineer looks at the big design to improve operations, security, and availability.

Here are the basic responsibilities and skills you can’t miss when hiring a systems engineer: 

Role and Responsibilities 

  • Managing and monitoring installed systems and infrastructure for the organization in line with company guidelines or SOP (standard operating procedure).
  • Defining customers’ needs and functionality.
  • Assisting the coordination of teams testing and developing the design to implement the output.
  • Installing, configuring, and testing operating systems, application software, and system management tools.
  • Ensuring the highest level of systems and infrastructure availability and implementing warranty and support activities.
  • Evaluating existing systems to provide technical support to the IT staff.
  • Planning and implementing system automation to improve efficiency.
  • Overlooking the development of customized software and hardware requirement.
  • Collaborating with other professionals to ensure high-quality deliverables.
  • Dealing with the work process, optimizing methods, and risk management tools.

Skills

  • BS/MS degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field.
  • Experience with engineering solutions and problem-solving.
  • System development and programming skills.
  • Experience with Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • Familiarity with scripting and automation tools.
  • Strong knowledge of networking concepts.
  • Technical reading and understanding.

Characteristics of a Great Systems Engineer

Besides technical skills and command with various programming languages, a great systems engineer should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. As we mentioned, they strictly collaborate with team associates and clients on project management; security; asset management; and customer service departments.

When hiring a systems engineer, thinking of your company culture is the first step to attract the right candidate for your project. Writing the ad, don’t forget the human-oriented skills you are looking for and how your team usually works on a project. 

The core skills for systems engineering are information security and application development. In addition, conflict resolution, analytical, and decision-making skills are vital for the position. 

Here are the soft skills to look for a systems engineer: 

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Decision-making
  • Information security
  • Analytical skills
  • Knowledge of systems engineering software tools
  • Leadership
  • Organizational skills
  • Attention to detail

Once you know what skills you are looking for, you need to make the right interview questions to hire the best candidate for your company.

Systems Engineer Interview Questions

1. Describe your role and a past project you worked on that involved systems engineering. 

Systems engineers generally work on the development of in-house IT infrastructure. The role can range from reporting applications to internal networks and web servers. Because of the type of role, a systems engineer can combine technological and transferable skills from experience. 

Each candidate can give you a different answer to this question. You need to look at areas of expertise, experience in specific projects, and technical communication skills. 

2. Have you developed a disaster recovery plan? 

Systems engineers often create recovery plans and systems designed to survive risky scenarios like natural disasters or power failures. If you’re looking for a systems engineer to work on disaster planning, ask about past projects to test their experience in the field. Disaster recovery plans include electronic assets and the ability to deliver customer services under any circumstance. Specifically, asking this question focuses on expertise in recovery plans; understanding disaster planning requirements; and problem-solving during the crisis. 

3. What does DNS mean, and how does it work on an internal network?

DNS stands for Domain Name System or Domain Name Server. With this service, you can look up IP addresses based on a domain name like google.com or www.microsoft.com. 

Often local area networks have a local DNS server that provides DNS service to employees. In most cases, internet service interruptions are due to a loss of DNS service, which doesn’t allow web browsers to connect to websites using domain name URLs. Through this question, you can test the network infrastructure command and network troubleshooting. 

4. What type of documentation have you created in the past?

As we mentioned, systems engineers are often in contact with other team members and clients to support their work. They help create requirements or planning documents that oversee the whole project. In this case, look for experience with technical documentation; written and verbal communication skills; and collaboration/planning experience. 

5. While working on a significant application project, how do you resolve a conflict between two different tech teams?

Because of the nature of the role, systems engineers often work with multiple technology teams in large organizations or complex projects. In a virtual team, disagreements on specific technical questions of procedures can arise at any moment. That’s why it is essential to test negotiation and interpersonal skills.

Where to Find Your Systems Engineer

Now, the next question is: where to look for the best systems engineers?  

Full-time remote vs freelance system engineer? Which one do you need?

The first step in recruiting your system engineer is to decide if you need a full-time or part-time freelancer system engineer and what budget you set for this role.

You must decide if you are looking for someone for a single project or specific task, or interested in having someone dedicated to ongoing maintenance and system management.

In the digital era, geographical borders are a distant memory. However, many options to hire remotely can be confusing. You might end up wasting time on the wrong platform. To hire the right remote systems engineer for your project, here are a few strategies to keep into account: 

  • Ask for reference and look into your network: Maybe a team member or a friend have the  perfect candidate for you (that’s rare, but one of the fast solutions when it happens).
  • Internal hiring: A software engineer or systems administrator from your team might have the skills and qualifications you need.
  • Freelance platforms: For a single project, these platforms are a great option. However, looking at the nature of this role, a full-time team member is a better solution to improve your website performance.
  • Job boards and social networking: These are another fast solution, especially in busy times. Keep in mind what we just said about freelancers, and think carefully if you prefer to save time on the hiring process.
  • Remote recruitment agencies: These agencies have expertise in hiring candidates and a worldwide network. They study your company and support you during the whole process until you find the perfect candidate. 

How can you hire the right system engineer when you have no tech backgrownd?

To recap, a systems engineer oversees the whole process of web development. From design to technical issues, this role coordinates team members and clients to boost productivity and improve sales performance. 

Looking at the nature of the role, you must pay attention during the hiring process. These positions cannot work on a single stage of the process or just with a few team members. A systems engineer will take care of any aspect of the project and will be working hand in hand with you and the team. That’s why you need to make sure to pick the right candidate without wasting too much time on the hiring process.

If you need assistance in recruiting system engineering candidates, we are here to help! We are a remote agency specialized in IT talent and remote company culture. We can support you during the whole process and find the best candidate for your project. If you have any questions, or you are ready to hire the best systems engineer, contact us! 

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Ihor

Ihor

Ihor leads the team at the core of what makes DistantJob successful – our incredible recruitment team! With over 8 years of experience as an IT recruitment professional, Ihor’s experience covers the whole breadth of the staffing and recruitment lifecycle – from sourcing and recruiting top-notch developers himself, to leading teams of recruiters.