One of the most challenging tasks for the IT department is
finding quality staff members. You may think you’ve got an upstanding citizen who
would be a great fit, but something could easily be lurking in the background…some
deal breaker that might not show up for months. When that happens, you find
yourself back at square one, again searching for the ideal candidate.
What if the standard interview process isn’t enough to weed
out those that won’t fit? That process has worked for decades for countless
businesses. I firmly believe, that practice is used up and new tools are
necessary to help vet possible IT staff. I have come up with ten ways to help
you make the most out of the process. Not every idea will work for everyone
looking to hire a new employee; but anyone who is about to go through this
process should at least give this list a glance to see what you might be
1. Prepare a test
Testing is a method to get a quick base-line of a candidate’s
knowledge. With this route you can hone the testing to perfectly fit your needs
and/or the job specifications. But don’t just limit the test questions to
servers and desktops. Since the candidate might have to deal with other humans,
toss in a few questions to gauge the candidate’s ability to successfully
navigate the waters of human interaction.
2. Start with remote support
Remote support is a great way to judge if a candidate has the
skills for the job. Agree to a trial period where that candidate will do
nothing but remote support so you can keep said candidate within reach. Having
the candidate remain in the office you will be able to quickly gage if the
candidate has the chops for the gig. If so, finalize the hiring process and
start sending the new employee out to calls. If not, thank them for their time
and send them packing.
3. Create a problem
Sandbox repair is a great way to throw a candidate into the
mix and see what kind of skills they have. This sandbox should at least contain
a server, a desktop (or two), and a printer. Break something on that isolated
network and see how quickly the candidate can resolve the issue. Depending upon
the level of technician you are looking to hire, the problem on the sandbox
could be simple or very challenging. Just don’t make this a Kobayashi Maru.
4. Do the background check
Background checks are a sure-fire way to get immediate red
flags about a potential employee. These are fairly standard procedure, but one
that is often overlooked by managers and owners. Those background checks will
help to give you an insight into various types of behavior from that employee’s
past and present. Do not, however, be fooled into thinking this is the
one-stop-shop of vetting techniques. This should be considered a first- round
process which would lead into the next pieces of the vetting process.
5. Involve others
Vet by committee is an outstanding means of getting your
department’s input on the prospective candidate. The one thing so many
companies forget is that new employees will have to work well with the current
staff. That new employee could be an absolutely brilliant engineer; but if they
can’t get along with your existing department, that genius will be wasted. This
process also makes your staff see that you do, in fact, value their input – so it’s
a win-win that you wouldn’t have going through the standard vetting process.
The only caveat to this process is to make sure your staff understands you do
have the final say.
6. Set up a short-term apprenticeship
This is really a temp-to-hire take on the process. Should a
prospective employee pass the first stages of the process, bring them in for a
trial period to make sure they are a solid fit for the day to day business of
the department. This trial period could offer a small stipend to compensate for
driving, parking, lunches, etc. It’s not the usual fare, but it’s an
outstanding way to see how someone fits without you losing your shirt.
7. Shadow another employee
Shadow senior engineer is another inexpensive way for a
candidate to be vetted. After the initial interview, have the applicant come in
for period of time that will allow for them to work along side a senior
engineer. This will not only give your senior staff the chance to get up close
and personal with the person, it will also give the candidate a chance to get
into the nuts and bolts of the day to day work flow. Once they’ve gone through
this process, if they return for the next phase, you know they are definitely
8. Check the social networks
Social networking is a bit of a tricky route to take, but it’s
one that can help you to get a much more complete picture of a prospect. What
you do not want to do is require the applicant give you their Facebook,
Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest information. Instead, just casually look them up and
see what you find. This is the double-edged sword of social networking in
general – everything is always out there.
9. Put together an informal gathering
Department gathering is a unique way to see how well
candidates interact with your staff. This should be done away from the office,
in a social setting. Allow the staff to get to know the candidate – even
covertly grill them on their skills and knowledge. This could lead to a lot of
bonding as well as your staff finding out pieces of crucial information that
will help lead you to the right solution. “Hey boss, she’s a Linux guru!” You
never know what your staff can find out.
10. Let a pro do it
Third-party vetting is where you turn when you either don’t
have the resources or time to do a full vetting of a possible employee. There
are plenty of on-line vetting services (such as HireRight), but I highly recommend you use
a local company. Yes, you will pay for this service, but should an employee not
work out, you have somewhere to turn. This should be your last-ditch effort –
not your go-to process.
The hiring of new employees shouldn’t be a daunting process.
At the same time, it shouldn’t be something you brush over lightly. You want
not only to get the best employee for your needs, but also fit that incoming
staff member with the best job. With a thorough vetting you can avoid a lot of
the traps others fall into. Just understand this – even with the most complete
vetting process, things fall through the cracks. You can run an applicant
through every wringer you have and still wind up with a dud.