There are two primary tasks involved in choosing someone to
fill an open position in your organization. First, you must determine the
candidate’s technical skills, and second, you must determine how the person
will fit into your organization and work with others to accomplish company
goals.

Interviewing: Technical vs. interpersonal skills

The level of technical expertise a job candidate needs
depends on the job role the person will fill at your company. An entry-level
help desk technician, for example, may need more customer service skills than
solid technical experience, while a network administrator may require more
proven technical skills.

Entry-level candidates

When hiring at an entry level, you will be able to offer a
lower salary, but there may be significant tradeoffs. An entry-level candidate
should come to you with a solid educational background and possibly a
certification, but will likely have little or no on-the-job experience doing
the work you require. These new workers will have trouble solving problems
because they don’t possess problem identification and problem resolution
skills. In addition to technology issues, entry-level candidates may also lack
business acumen, leading you to ask yourself whether the candidate will be able
to handle customer problems and complaints and instill customer confidence in
your business.

Experienced candidates

Your second option is to focus on hiring an experienced
candidate, who will likely have higher salary expectations. The adage “you
get what you pay for” often applies here.

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An experienced hire will be productive much more quickly, if
not immediately. Experienced candidated will have the problem identification and problem
resolution experience under their belt, and business issues won’t be foreign to
them. If you hire the right person, you will need to do much less hand-holding;
you should be able to assign a task and pretty much forget about it.

To find experienced talent, you have a number of options.
One of the best methods for finding a reliable person is to start with your
personal network. This upside is this option is free; the downside is that
you might risk insulting a friend if you don’t like the candidate. Another
factor to consider is that you can’t predict the timing of personal referrals.
Other options for finding experienced talent include hiring an agency or
recruiter, the newspaper, job board postings, and job board resume searches.

To determine what is best for you, use this recruiter ROI
checklist
to analyze your hiring needs.

Determining technical skills

The interview questions you ask to determine technical
proficiency will vary depending on the position you need to fill. For a help
desk technician, you may want to inventory his or her experience in specific
areas, such as Internet technologies or e-mail. TechRepublic’s Phone Interview Cheat Sheet download
contains a weighted checklist of technology areas on which you can rate help
desk or support candidates. If you’re interviewing a network administrator
candidate, you will ask questions specifically related to technical knowledge
and problem resolution skills, such as, “A user complains that when she prints
a document in any application, the printer output is garbage. What is the most
likely cause of the problem?” For a complete list of specific technical
questions and user scenarios, take a look at TechRepublic’s
Network Administrator Interview Questions download
.

Determining interpersonal skills

While determining a candidate’s technical skills is a major
goal in an interview, finding out how the person will fit into your
organization’s culture is also tantamount. You need to know how this person
will adapt to the environment and how well the candidate will work with others
to accomplish changing goals in the organization. There are boatloads of books
out there that advise people on how to answer the most typical interview
questions and, therefore, many candidates are well rehearsed. So how do you
break through the candidate’s facade and find out what you really want to know?

You ask questions that are designed to find out more about
the candidate’s work ethic and fit within the organization. For examples of
these types of questions, take a look at Interview
questions that demand meaningful answers
and “Questions I’d
like to ask the next time I’m hiring.

For a comprehensive list of resources to help you make good
hires, see page two.

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