Hiring an IT Person – What to Look For
Hiring an IT professional can be a daunting task. If you’re not an IT specialist, it may hard to gauge the level of experience of an individual based on their résumé alone. Let’s discuss some strategies for hiring an IT person or a technical resource and some red flags to look for that will help ensure you hire the right candidate.
Ambiguity can cause you more frustration than necessary. Before you ever post your job advertisement, it’s key to know exactly what type of person you are looking for. Are you a startup company looking for a general IT person to handle all aspects of your network and hardware? Do you need a highly skilled network specialist with skills in security? Are you looking for a software developer who is fluent in a specific programming language such as VB.NET, C# or Java?
Be specific about what you are looking for in the beginning so that you can narrow down the field of prospective employees. Also, try to define a list of specific skills that you want a potential applicant to possess.
Find the Right Fit
Say you’re a small software company and you need software developers. Going out and hiring three of the best computer science majors that you can find may or may not work out for you. You have to look for the right credentials, but you also have to try to judge if the applicant will fit into your company’s culture.
You might hire a programming genius, but if they are unwilling to collaborate or are extremely toxic to the work environment, then they aren’t worth your time and money. It is important to evaluate the candidate as a person as well as by their credentials. Also, don’t skip the background and reference checks. These are crucial elements to discovering more information about a candidate’s work history, character and successes/failures.
In the IT industry, experience is invaluable. You obviously want the applicant to have good credentials. However, if they can talk about their previous projects intelligently and answer specific questions about them, that is a good barometer of their level of experience. Certifications and awards are also things to look for on any prospective candidate’s résumé.
Consider this scenario. You’re looking for someone to lead a team of IT professionals. You interview someone fresh out of college that has five different certifications and three prestigious scholar awards but doesn’t have any previous project or team leading experience. This person might not be the right fit for this position based solely on the merit of their achievements. They could still be a valuable team member, but maybe not a leader just yet. At least not until they get some real-world experience.
During the interview process, be cognizant of some red flags that might let you know this is not the person you are looking for.
- Beware if the applicant uses a lot of technology buzzwords and talks about different technologies, systems or architectures in high-level or vague terms. It may mean that this person reads a lot of technical articles and magazines, but doesn’t know how to implement or work with any of the technology they’ve been talking about.
- Another thing to listen for is if the applicant has very strong opinions about certain technologies and disdain for other competing technologies. They should be able to discuss technologies that they are skilled in, but should also be willing to learn new technologies.
- Lastly, be aware if they have a poor attitude about less technical employees. You want them to be able to work well with others and not have an attitude of superiority.
Another important thing to look for is if the applicant is willing to keep their skills current because technology is constantly updating. You’ll want to hire someone who will be able to grow within the company as time goes on. IT is an investment that pays dividends many times over, and if you keep your staff current, you will never have to worry about being left behind.
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