To effectively hire high-caliber, passive IT candidates, the organizations first priority must be to structure, plan, and execute an efficient interview process.
Ad hoc interviews lacking a planned approach generally take their own course and are simply not efficient. This applies to both time and results.
The interviewer’s purpose in conducting the interview is to ask pointed questions and gather candidate data that can be utilized to determine if track record, depth of experience, competency and motivation exist and at what level. When the correct questions aren’t asked during the interview, and the correct mindset doesn’t exist, the interviewer forms opinions to support their first impression of the candidate, not key performance indicator data. Instead of gathering information to validate a candidate’s caliber and performance, the decision turns into one of “I liked him” or I didn’t like her”.
Making accurate performance-based hiring decisions is dictated by objective decision making, not subjective beliefs. By suspending first impressions and focusing on gathering data (predetermined to be important based on the requirement) makes the process objective with supporting data.
Developing broad-based (or initial) questions, scrutinized by the hiring manager to make sure they address the role prior to the interview discussing the candidate’s knowledge, ensures the interviewer takes the correct path in the interview itself.
These questions need to revolve around extracting data dealing with the candidate’s past performance, depth of experience, position related competencies, motivation, and successful track record. Interviewers need to know how to listen and then quickly formulate appropriate follow-up questions designed to gather pertinent detailed information they want to learn. The organization needs to choose the interviewers intentionally and train the most gifted to effectively “peel the onion”.
Planned and prioritized questions need to be developed during stages of the interview – particularly during the screening and the performance phases of the interview, allowing the interviewing team to acquire data deemed important and necessary.
- Screening interview – This portion of the interview is used to validate that the candidate has the essential competencies, experience required, and most importantly rank past performance/caliber. This interview is highly structured with broader-based questions (and their answers) planned in advance, making the candidates simple to calibrate and compare. Bottom line – no one moves on unless they have all the above: essential competencies, experience required, and are top-performing/high-caliber candidates.
- Performance part of the interview – This is the portion of the interview used to identify the different pieces of the job and then identify the different competencies that align with those different pieces. Predetermined, broader-based questions are based on this. The appropriate people – those who know and understand the job – need to be involved in crafting appropriate questions and answers to determine “match” and performance criteria.
- Candidate-driven part of the interview – This is the portion of the interview where the candidate (especially a passive candidate) needs to be “sold” on the organization, culture, and employer brand. It is difficult to know what is important to and motivates a candidate. The interviewer needs to be prepared to sell, subtly, not desperately – especially to the passive candidates – and this meeting can be made more efficient by having someone handle it who is knowledgeable about the company, it’s brand, and the pro’s and con’s the culture generates.
The best interviewers of top IT talent are experts in both science – with their ability to plan and execute – and art – with their ability to extract data based on follow-up questions. Both combine to make an efficient and effective interview process.
At Honer & Associates, we have over 30 years’ experience in effectively managing the interview process. If you have any additional questions about interviewing proven IT professionals, please contact us at your convenience.