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Top Questions To Ask In An IT Interview

Companies need skilled IT staff. The shift from cost center to line-of-business enabler has created a critical role for expert IT departments across industries and market verticals. The challenge? Finding the right fit as digital skills gaps widen and competition for great talent heats up. Organizations know from experience that hiring the wrong candidate is worse than leaving the position vacant.

The solution? With the market on track for more than 1 million vacant IT jobs in the next two years, businesses need a way to quickly identify top-performing potential hires and fast-track them into critical IT roles. And it all starts with the interview. Here are the top subjects that companies should address during interviews to find the right fit.

Key Areas

It’s easy for IT interviews to get off track. Overly technical discussions can sideline the ability of recruiters to evaluate candidates’ other attributes, while interviews that are light on deep-dive content can leave questions about prospective employees’ ability to do the job.

  • Technology skills. Without the requisite skills, even passionate IT pros will be hard-pressed to keep up with configuration, management and security challenges. Best bet? Start with straightforward questions about certifications and training.

  • Behavioral skills. Ultimately, this comes down to business culture integration: Are potential new staff members willing to align with enterprise expectations? Questions here should focus on hypothetical scenarios: What happens if front-line staff needs IT help after they’ve tried (and failed) to solve their own problems?

  • Communication skills. IT is no longer an island unto itself; staff must be able to effectively interact with other departments, executives and third-party providers to accomplish key goals. The result? Better-than-average written and spoken communication skills are essential.

Specific Asks

General guidelines are great, but let’s tackle three specific “questions” worth having the candidate address.

  1. Get a whiteboard. Provide a marker. Create an IT failure scenario and ask candidates to solve it.

    The benefit? You get to see their work in action. Even if they can’t immediately provide a solution, hiring managers get a sense of their process, patience and ability to work under pressure.

  2. I know nothing about tech. Explain the cloud (or big data, or AI, etc.)

    This key behavioral question tests their attitude toward non-tech colleagues they’ll encounter every day. Watch out for answers that are vague or condescending, and ask follow-up questions to ensure they can think on their feet.

  3. The CEO isn’t sure about the new budget for IT security (or cloud spending or data backup solutions). Justify the expense from a business perspective.

    Justify the expense from a business perspective. </strong>Here, you’re looking for communication. Can prospective staff articulate the function and the financial benefit of IT budget requests?

Finding the Right Fit

In a high-demand tech skills market, finding the right candidate makes all the difference. For best results, design your interview around the IT trifecta: top technical skills, positive behavior practices and above-average corporate communication.

Anthony Garber