Technical Screening Questions: Finding Your Next IT Consultant
Interviewing IT consultants can be a difficult task. Certain technical skills are so niche or so new that much of the talent pool is not yet in the know. And unless you yourself are a subject matter expert, filtering out underqualified candidates can be as difficult as spotting a real Rolex from a pile of artful knockoffs. That is why knowing how to ask technical screening questions in a way that cuts to the truth is so critical to interviewing.
So how do you use the interview as your own personal polygraph? Here are a few ways we use technical screening questions to evaluate our IT consultants.
Checking Candidate Claims on a Resume
Resumes have inherent limitations. In a confined length, a candidate needs to spark your interest in his or her capabilities. Often, that means keeping technical content minimal, emphasizing achievements over responsibilities, and sticking to searchable language. Rarely does that synopsis do a candidate’s true technical depth justice. That’s why asking technical screening questions is so important to measuring a candidate’s real aptitudes.
Let’s imagine that you are hiring a VoIP Support Engineer. You already know that on paper, the candidate has supported and maintained CISCO and ShoreTel VoIP systems. Now, you need to quantify that experience. A few different types of screening questions can test the circumference of their knowledge.
Example: How did you encourage interoperability between Juniper Networks and Cisco switches at your previous job? Asking questions that encourage explanations about how different technologies work together can show a candidate’s genuine comprehension.
Example: How did you use ShoreTel’s technology to troubleshoot issues? Asking about resolutions shows a candidates’ knowledge of a technology in action compared to what they know on a strictly academic basis.
Checking Compatibility with Your Position
Unfortunately, you cannot build your own Stepford Employee from scratch. Each applicant will have his or her own strengths and weaknesses, bringing them within the radius of your job description. Narrowing down a field of potential IT consultants to one with compatibilities that approximate your ideal takes careful consideration. The right technical screening questions are a central part of that measurement.
Interview questions meant to test candidate alignment with your job description tend to be more open-ended. Candidates have a blueprint of what you want, but they need to fill in the details with their responses. Let’s use a different potential candidate: a Web Developer. Your technical screening questions should parallel these:
Example: What development, testing, and production environments do you regularly use? What benefit do they provide? These types of questions allow candidates to draw outside the lines and show their own approach. Their response will tell you two things: did they thoroughly read the job description to learn your approach and can their different approaches add value to your company?
Example: How do you avoid scaling issues when you are building the UI for the MVP of a web application? Asking this type of screening question can gauge how prepared candidates are to handle inevitable challenges. As a bonus, it helps candidates know what is on their horizon.
Combining Technical Screening Questions with the Interpersonal Side
Of course, a good candidate is more than just technical aptitude. The interpersonal side needs to be balanced into the types of questions you ask. All throughout the interview, you need to keep conscious of any red flags for incompatible personalities, all the while remembering to avoid the interview questions you can’t ask. It can be a tough feat. Why not get most of the cultural screening done in advance?
An IT consulting and recruiting firm like Donnelly & Moore can speed up your whole process. We use our own list of technical screening questions and interpersonal questions to separate the best New York IT consultants from the crowd. We use the knowledge of competitive contract rates to attract tech professionals once we find them. Contact us today to get started.