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Back to School: Interviewing 101

It’s that time of year. The leaves are showing the first signs of autumn, Starbucks is marketing its Pumpkin Spice Latte, and yellow school buses are slowing your morning commute. It’s back to school. But the kids aren’t the only ones with some lessons to learn this season. We at TCG are here to help you brush up on your interview skills, just in time for fall.

Interviewing is one of those tasks that you’re never really taught but are somehow expected to perform. Sure, most HR professionals understand the legal dos and don’ts of the interview process, and they generally receive training to help screen candidates who don’t meet the given criteria. But the critical interviews typically happen once a candidate passes through HR and onto the designated hiring manager—someone who is usually a subject matter expert on the job that would be required of the candidate, but not really a subject matter expert on how to conduct an interview.

Tech interviews bring another level of complication to the entire process. IT interview questions can get deeply technical, and only a technical hiring manager will have the knowledge and experience to properly evaluate a candidate’s skillset. But technical knowledge is only one piece of the hiring puzzle—an interviewer must evaluate culture fit, work ethic, communication skills, and other intangibles when assessing a candidate. It’s a big ask of anybody, but especially anybody outside of HR. So here are a few tips we’ve gathered over the years to help strengthen your skills as an interviewer.

Ensure an Extensive Technical Screening is Performed Prior to Your Interview
You don’t want to waste your time with a candidate who doesn’t have the right skills or level of knowledge required to do the job. But HR can have a hard time screening IT candidates due to the complex nature of the field. So it’s important for you, the IT expert, to be involved in the creation of a pre-screening questionnaire or assessment at the beginning of the process. Once you review the completed assessments, you can bring in candidates who you think can be serious contenders.

Ask Technical Questions in a Non-Technical Way
This sounds a lot trickier than it really is. But the fact is that you will still need to assess a candidate’s technical knowledge during the in-person interview, even if that candidate aced the pre-screening assessment. But you want to assess other, less tangible qualifications at the same time. If you word a question correctly, a candidate will showcase his or her level of communication ability, problem-solving ability, ability to work in a team, and other skills along with the technical ones.

Here are some examples (we’ll just use SQL development as an example):

  • Why do you enjoy [SQL development]?
  • What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a [SQL developer]? What do you find is the least difficult aspect?
  • Tell me about a time you failed as a [SQL developer].
  • Tell me about a [SQL project] you had to work on as part of a small team—what role did you play and what were your feelings about the entire project from beginning to end?

Hire a Professional to Do the Work for You
“Do what you do best, and outsource the rest.” – Peter Drucker, Legendary Business Consultant

We know this suggestion sounds like a joke, as it means almost entirely removing yourself from the interview process, but we’re serious! The tips we’ve shared with you in this post will certainly help make you a stronger interviewer—but your valuable time and energy is still required. IT professionals are not interview experts, and HR professionals aren’t IT experts—but IT recruiters are both.

An IT recruiting firm, like The Centrics Group, will take the IT hiring process completely off your to-do list. With a wealth of interview experience and a vast array of technical talent and expertise (including a team of in-house engineers), we hand-select top candidates and bring them to you. At that point, you will know that a submitted candidate has been extensively screened and evaluated on a number of levels, including culture fit. All that’s left for you to do is decide which awesome candidate you like best.

We at TCG sharpen our technical interviewing skills year-round, and we have the report card to prove it. As a LinkedIn Certified agency, all of our recruiters and account managers are LinkedIn Recruiter certified. LinkedIn itself has even praised our recruiting methods. We’re the top of our class when it comes to screening top IT talent, and you can be too. Contact us today to connect with your next IT hire.

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