Hiring personnel with the appropriate level of technical knowledge and experience is critical for a help desk's success. Member Aypl recently turned to TechRepublic's Technical Q&A section to ask for advice on developing a series of questionnaires to determine employees’ computer knowledge. Aypl wants to test around 100 employees on their hardware and software skills, especially in the areas of Microsoft Windows and Office. Sounds like a tall order, but we’re here to help. Here is some advice from TechRepublic members and a listing of TechRepublic articles to help Aypl and everyone else accurately measure IT competency.
Members offer their help
"I take my tests at www.brainbench.com," wrote Deja_Vu. According to its Web site, Brainbench provides online certification and assessment of more than 200 different skills. Tests are available for a variety of subjects, including Windows 9x/Me and NT/2000, computer technical support, computer help desk, and network technical support. Although many in the IT industry do not believe Brainbench certifications are equivalent to those from Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, or CompTIA, they may be just the right thing to test IT knowledge.
Member Pjpatiky suggested developing in-house questionnaires, with a hands-on approach. "Develop tests that require a few moments of thinking, then physical acting at the keyboard," Pjpatiky wrote.
TechRepublic articles and more
For more information on hiring technically proficient personnel or training existing staff, see the following TechRepublic articles, columns, and downloads:
- "Ten questions that can help you hire a good help desk analyst." Are you having trouble finding the right employees for your help desk? According to this article, you may not be asking the right questions.
- "Measure recruits’ proficiency with self-administered skills testing." When a prospective employee’s tech credentials seem too good to be true, skills testing can verify his or her skill set with little effort from the hiring firm. This article features some testing products and discusses how they can aid in recruiting.
- "Aptitude tests help managers hire the best candidates." Managers are speeding up the hiring process by testing applicants before they even interview.
- "Design your own hands-on tests to get an accurate skills assessment." Off-the-shelf courseware often comes with ready-to-use tests, which may not provide a good assessment of what students have learned. You can provide better tests by designing your own and using "what if" and "how to" questions.
- "Download our Access test to see what your users know." If you need a ready-to-use skills assessment test, we’ve got you covered. This comprehensive test covers basic, intermediate, and advanced Access skills.
- "Put IT on the training agenda for new employees." How many new hires did your company make last month? How many tech support calls from new employees can you prevent by doing IT training up front? Start counting now.
- "Get maximum value out of your help desk temps." If you hire a temporary employee to fill in on your help desk, make sure that person receives training, or you're throwing your money away.
- "How to audit your help desk." Testing the performance of your help desk can be very beneficial, but it has to be done properly. You need to make your staff comfortable with the process, and you have to make sure the right people are asking the right questions.
Ask your peers
If you have a question that you can’t find an answer to, post it in TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A section. Other TechRepublic members will try to answer your question in return for TechPoints.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.