Every day in business, there are new positions opening up that will need to be filled with skilled, qualified, and temperamentally suited new hires. Recruiters and hiring managers alike are constantly seeking to find ideal professionals to fill these roles and they work hard to find the right person for each and every position. Because their expertise is in match-making and not any particular tech job, filling highly technical positions is a particular challenge in the hiring community. It’s important to find someone with exactly the right skills and attitude for a position. In the technical interview, you will need to know the right questions to ask, the right answers when you hear them, and how to tell the difference between an incompetent technician and one who is just phone shy.
Know the Material
Assuming that you already know interviewing basics like ‘arriving on time’ and ‘having your questions ready’, the most important part of a technical interview is the subject matter. If you don’t understand the technology being discussed, how can you determine if the candidate knows their stuff? Don’t be afraid to spend a little time on google getting to know the details and tech-jargon related to the skills you are interviewing for. Every programmer, for instance, will have a favorite “IDE”, which is a program that makes it easier to write and edit code, and familiarity with the company’s preferred IDE is important. While it is not always available, the best way to conduct a technical interview is to work with the technical manager of the role you’re trying to fill. They, more than anyone, know what they’re looking for in a team member and the right questions to ask. If they can’t be present for the interview, it may be useful to talk to them ahead of time for a quick primer on the technical subject matter.
Identify Interview Skills vs Technical Skills
Whether you are interviewing over the phone or in person, remember that technicians do not make their careers on personability. While some are gregarious socialites, many are shy or awkward and tend to have over-analytical personalities that make the interviewing process somewhat harrowing. Before you judge nervous behavior as unsuitability, remember that you may well be dealing with a professional introvert. If your interviewee stumbles over their words, babbles, or freezes up, it may be because they’re nervous and not because they don’t know how to answer the question. Be patient, and encourage your potential recruit to calm down and try again if an answer gets garbled. You may get a much clearer result the second time through as they get used to the interview process and start talking about their specialty.
Ask Specific Questions
If you have a technical manager present, let them ask the technical questions and trust their assessment of skill. If not, this is where doing your homework pays off. You may find that your interviewee opens up more easily when asked about the work they do in detail, in terms that relate to their field. General questions in a technical context can be interpreted in dozens of ways and may cause confusion during the interview. When interviewing a 3D animator, for instance, try asking about their preferred rigging methods as opposed to how they make things move. This is essentially the same question, but in a language, your interviewee will understand and know how to answer.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
When you’ve got your candidate speaking freely and confidently on specific questions, open up the scope and let them tell you about their work. This can give you the clearest glimpse into who they are while working and their level of investment in the subject matter. Here is the part where you ask them what part of the job they love most, what their ideal work environment is, and their opinions on relevant technologies. Even if you’re a little rough on the technical details, your experience as an interviewer will help you quickly identify which candidates love and understand the work they’re discussing, and which ones have practically SEO optimized pre-planned answers. If you let them talk, experience and depth of knowledge will be easy to identify.
You don’t have to be an engineer or programmer to successfully fill a technical position, you just need to have an understanding of what the right candidate will look and sound like when asked the relevant technical questions. When writing your questions, remember that everything is very terminology specific, and general questions are not easy to answer unless the technical context has already been defined. Armed with the right preparation, a technical interview should be a snap to find the perfect professional. For more pro interview tips, contact us today!