(Some personal observations, to be posted on my blog)
If a job description says … architectural design experience desired…, but the role is NOT the architect, then I bet the new hire is NOT really welcome to comment on architectural decisions.
I have seen enough to be convinced that each small development team (3 – 10 developers) only has one architect. “No 2 tigers in 1 mountain.” as the Chinese saying goes.
If a new hire has a lot of architect experience, he (or she) had better keep a low profile on that. Whether the system is in early or final design stage, the designated architect inevitably has some good ideas how she (or he) wants it done. Most software designs have non-trivial flaws and painful trade-offs, so it’s easy to question her design.
( Requirements are best understood after system roll-out, and very vague in the design stage. Requirements are always subject to change, so every architect endeavors to future-proof her design, which is always a hit and miss — we always overshoot there and under-design here. )
The system architect won’t admit it but she seldom enjoys challenging questions on her design. If the question gives her a chance to show off her design, fine. Otherwise, those questions waste more time and adds more confusion than value. Some questions may bring rare insight and help the design, but i’m no expert on the communication process required for such questions to be openly asked. There are many wrong ways to ask such a right question.
As job descriptions put it, employers genuinely “desire” some amount of architect experience in a new hire. Perhaps such an experience helps the new hire work with the existing architect. A soccer team desires players with center-midfield experience. Doesn’t mean you and the existing center midfielder should both play that position.