Beyond the CV – 10 Tips for selecting the right candidate for the job

Finding top tech talent can be a challenge, but these 10 tips can help you get the most out of the interview process and pick the winners.

1.They can cite specific concrete examples of their accomplishments. It’s not enough for someone to say, “I built some servers.” How did you build them? Via which technology? How did you get them patched? Was configuration management software involved? How did they get inserted into the environment? How were they documented? How did you turn it over to the user community? Details, details, details.

2. They know the terms and lingo–and what they mean. Don’t fall for any word salads, buzzwords, or rushed recitation of acronyms like, AWS, DNS, DHCP, SAN, NAS, etc. Ensure candidates know the technological terms and use them appropriately in their descriptions of what they’ve worked on or are interested in.

3. They are passionate about technology. They live and breathe it all day, all evening, seven days a week.

4. Find out how they would fix flaws in technology. The goal here is to determine whether a candidate has the drive and motivation to actually correct these problems or peeves, rather than just complaining about them. And when you ask how they would remedy the situation, don’t take “to have that not happen” for an answer. See what they can come up with for concrete solutions.

5. Assess their ability to work independently. This kind of independent initiative is critical to locating someone who will be a valuable and productive team member, rather than someone who just tries to farm out the tough stuff to other people who have their own tasks to worry about.

6. Make sure they can bring value to a team. It’s great to hire someone who can work alone, but you don’t want someone so isolated they can’t pitch in and help out when needed, such as for on-call coverage, crisis situations, or other efforts where everyone has to row in the same direction.

7. Determine how they handle deadlines. Asking for concrete details on how they handled difficult and challenging deadlines and what their perspective is on time management can yield bountiful results. Look for candidates that have gone the extra mile and put in the time necessary to make critical deadlines.

8. Establish their ideal workday. Ask a candidate what their ideal workday would entail. See if their response indicates that it would involve a cornucopia of productive examples detailing how they would earn their pay. You want specific details, not just “fixing problems” or “helping users.”

9. Find out what they would do if they were the boss. Rather than asking the tired old cliche, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” ask what they would do if they were in charge. What technologies would they implement? What processes would they put in place? What kind of people would they hire?  What would their quarterly and annual goals look like? It’s not that they have to think like a manager, it’s that you want to get their insights as to how they would operate as a leader. You want to see what sort of vision they have, what would be on their roadmap, and how they would enact positive changes to help the organization.

10. Make them pass an actual technology test. Depending on the role you’re hiring for, ensure the candidate can prove their mettle in a hands-on scenario. Make them troubleshoot an application or operating system issue, to configure a network switch, to write a puppet module, or some other element they’ll be doing every day. Have the spare software or hardware (or simulation software or virtual machine) handy and available for them to show their skills.

Hopefully these tips will assist you in weeding out the subpar candidates and locating the prime tech talents who will make your company operate more efficiently and successfully. One last tip–make sure to thoroughly check candidate’s references:

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