4 Ways For IT Managers To Do A Better Job Of Interviewing

by drjim on June 20, 2013

Doing an interview correctly is an important job skill

Doing an interview correctly is an important job skill
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The person who has the IT manager job (you) has a huge responsibility – you need to make sure that the right people are attracted to your IT team and that you hire the best of the best. The only problem with this responsibility is that far too few of us have ever received any IT manager skills training on just exactly how to go about doing interviews correctly…

The Right (and Wrong) Questions To Ask During An Interview

Let’s think about this for just a moment – just exactly what is an interview? I’m hoping that we can all agree that it’s a conversation between you and a candidate during which you try to extract answers to important questions that you have about their ability to perform the job that you are trying to fill. Have any of us ever received any IT manager training on how to do this correctly?

If we can all agree on this definition, then the next step is to take a look at the questions that you’re going to be asking. This is where things can start to go off track. The problem is that too often we’ve not prepared for the interview that we’re conducting. This means that the questions that we’re asking end up revealing very little about the candidate. This is something that we’re going to have to look into fixing.

A classic question that many of us like to ask is “where do you see yourself being in 5 years?” The problem with this question is that nobody really knows where they are going to be in 5 years and so any answer that they give you is probably made up. A much better question to ask is how the job that they are interviewing for would fit into their long-term career plan? This can open up a conversation about the candidate’s goals and what they want to accomplish.

How To Stay Out Of Trouble During An Interview

You wouldn’t think that you could get into trouble just by asking some questions during an interview; however, you can. Asking questions about things that have nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to perform the job will get you into trouble.

An example of this is if you were to ask a candidate if they have any kids. That kind of question is not permitted during a job interview. Instead, what you are going to want to ask is if the candidate is going to be able to work the hours that the position will require. You need to remember to keep your question for the candidate focused on their ability to do the job that they are interviewing for.

Another danger area is when you ask the candidate what kind of people they have difficulty working with. The problem is that you’re probably going to get a made-up answer to this question. A much better question to ask is “tell me about a time that you had a conflict with someone at work”. With a little luck, when they give you a real-life example of how they operate, this will give you insights into how they interact with different personalities.

What All Of This Means For You

An IT team can only be as good as the people who work on the team. A part of your IT manager job is to make sure that the right people get hired. Do this right and it will help you with your IT team building. It turns out that this is actually harder to do than a lot of us think that it is.

One of the most important things to realize is that there are a set of questions that we need to be very careful to not ask job interview candidates. Sometimes these questions don’t provide any useful information, sometimes they are illegal.

Instead, what you need to do is to go into your next interview situation with a set of well-designed questions. You are going to want to use these questions to get the most useful information out of your next job candidate.

No, it’s not easy to go through the interview process from start to finish correctly. However, taking the time to learn how to do this correctly has the ability to provide real and immediate benefits for your entire IT team. Learn how to do this correctly and everyone (including you) will benefit.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to compare different job interview candidates responses to your questions?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Hmm, so now that you are an IT manager, what’s the next step? Will you become CIO some day? Perhaps, however, this is not going to happen if you don’t take the time to properly manage your career by developing the IT manager skills that you’re going to need. I’m pretty sure that we all want to manage our careers, but exactly how to go about doing that is where things seem to get a bit hazy…

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