Numerous companies use certifications to screen job candidates. Even if all the caveats associated with this process are given, you might encounter candidates who have multiple high-level certifications but cannot differentiate a router from a box of cheese. How can you identify (and reject) such people?
Surprisingly, the solution is very easy: give them access to a few boxes and assign a simple configuration task. For high-end candidates, develop a scenario that closely mimics your network—or what you plan your network to be in a year (after all, you’re hiring people to work on your network), build a small test lab and give each candidate a few hours to complete the task. Provide Internet access, too; having the ability to find solutions on the Net is an important skill these days. When the work is done (assuming that the candidate doesn’t just run out of the building when you mention the lab), review the configuration with the candidate and let him/her explain what was done and why.
This whole process is undoubtedly time-consuming, so you should use it only in the very last step of the selection process, when the number of candidates is manageable. However, the results will more than justify the costs: you’ll be able to select the candidates who have proven to you that they’re the best available.