Are you qualified to interview your new IT expert? Does IT talent scare you?
If you are one of the millions of small businesses with little or no full-time, in-house tech expertise, there’s a good chance you’re not ready for this inevitable obstacle. Whether you are a startup hiring your first System Administrator or a non-tech organization replacing your only technical resource, how will you know what questions to ask? Will you know what answers to look for? Will you even know which résumés to target?
Hiring IT talent is tricky without a knowledgeable interviewer on hand to help you out. However, this is a common problem with tried-and-true solutions.
Probably the most common approach is to turn to an expert. In 4 Tips For Finding And Retaining Tech Talent, Meghan M. Biro points out that “Tech is different” from most other fields when it comes to recruiting because the skills are so specific. Ideally, this is where you phone a friend. If you have a reliable person in your network who has performed the kind of job you’re looking to fill, ask for help. Get this person involved in your selection process.
Another more expensive option is to bring in a bona fide technical recruiter. If you take this route, when working with your recruiter, explain the position to the best of your ability, including the mission and responsibilities of the position. If you are already dependent on certain technology, be specific about the products and services you currently use. This will help the recruiter find candidates familiar with your technology, thereby reducing the learning curve for your new hire. The more specific you can be, the better candidates your recruiter can provide.
If you take the initiative yourself by posting your job opening on a tech-specific website such as Dice or ITJobMatch.com, you can still find experts to help you with the technical portion of the interview. If you don’t have anyone in your personal or professional network who can help you, find a local IT services company to help vet your candidates at an hourly rate.
Maybe you feel you can handle the interview and selection process on your own, but need a little help. There are several online resources you can turn to for technical tests and prepackaged IT self-assessments. For instance, companies such as eSkill have online technical tests you can send to your applicants to measure their skills. Alternatively, ITJobMatch.com is an IT job board with a unique built-in self-assessment feature. This allows you to both target the specific skills you’re looking for, and quickly sort through the best candidates.
However you approach the interview process, remember that the technical interview is not the end-all be-all. There is a lot more you will want to know about your candidates. Finding a highly skilled technician that turns out to be a poor fit for your organization can be a costly mistake. Ask IT candidates the same good questions you would ask anyone you are considering for employment. And of course, as Forbes contributor Mark Murphy points out, it is just as important to avoid bad questions.
The scenario in which non-technical employers are responsible for finding and vetting technical job seekers is a common one. Fortunately, the tools to succeed are readily available.