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6 Tips for Conducting an IT Job Interview

While searching the Internet for job interview tips, it’s fairly easy to find plenty of help—that is, if you’re being interviewed. Most people are more likely to find themselves answering the questions during an interview than asking them, so it’s common to think of the job interview as a one-sided affair, or simply as the last obstacle standing between the candidate and the job. However, a truly successful interview relies just as much — if not more — on the interviewer’s performance. When you take on the task of screening potential new hires, you’re taking responsibility for the company’s future.  In this post I outline 6 Tips for conducting an IT job interview.

When the interview is for a position in the IT department, it’s especially crucial, as these staff members are integral to the computer and technical functionality of the entire office.

Maximize your interviewing effectiveness by following these 6 Tips for conducting an IT job interview.

Be Prepared

This one works both ways. You wouldn’t expect a serious job candidate to come to the table without being fully prepared, so why should you? The stakes are too high for either side to just wing it off-hand, but they’re arguably higher for the interviewer. Experts say that the cost of a bad hire is likely to exceed an entry-level position’s annual salary, so collect as much info as possible to make an informed decision.

At the very least, you should prepare a short list of questions for the candidate in advance. Find out what their background is, what software they have experience using, how many official IT positions they have held in the past and if they are familiar with job scheduling. Studying up on the candidate’s background and qualifications is also useful. You should also go over the job, treating it like you were applying for it yourself. Consider what qualities would best fit the job requirements, and look for them during the interview.

Break the Ice

Let’s face it: interviewing is usually pretty stressful for everyone involved. You can ease the tension, though, by starting things off on a light, casual note. It’s tempting to get right down to business, but a minute or so of small talk will go a long way in relaxing both you and the candidate. Besides, you never know, a short chat about shared interests could lead to valuable insights about the person.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Again, it’s absolutely imperative to use the interview phase for collecting as much information as possible. Try designing questions that will encourage complex, open-ended responses, and avoid yes/no prompts. “How” and “why” are some of the most valuable tools at your disposal, as are prompts that draw upon the candidate’s personal experiences. These tactics not only promote more authentic responses, but also challenge the candidate to get creative and think critically.

Follow Up, Dig Deeper

In many ways, it’s useful to apply some tips drawn from journalism to the job interview. For instance, even though you’ll want to prepare your main questions in advance, don’t hesitate to throw in a follow-up question or dig a bit deeper when the opportunity presents itself. You don’t want to get too sidetracked, as it could get in the way of your other questions, but a little encouragement could lead to a very thoughtful response.

Let Them Do the Talking

A bit of prodding and digging here and there can lead to some great dialogue, but remember, ultimately, the candidate is the one in the spotlight. You should spend the bulk of your time talking and learning about them and what they stand to offer your company. As the interviewer, it’s up to you to set the pace of the conversation, but be careful not to dominate it. This wastes time that could be better spent gleaning information, and it could even leave a negative impression about your company on the candidate.

Design a Ratings System

Certainly a good candidate will make a positive impression on you with a personable demeanor, but when it comes time to pick one, you have to focus on what’s really important. To help you in this crucial step, recall the job criteria you thought of back in the pre-interview stage to help create your questions. Objectively speaking, based on the information you gathered, how well does this particular candidate fulfill the requirements you’ve established? Grade each candidate (perhaps using a letter grade or star rating system), preferably in multiple weighted categories, such as job experience (important) and personality (a little less important), and you’ll have an easy method of comparison.

Interviewing is a bit more of an art than a science, but with practice and study, you can definitely master it. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll surely find the right person to fill that IT position.

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