It’s easy to weed out applicants by gauging the experience and skillsets listed on their resume with the demands of your open position, but this can only get you so far. When 47% of new hires fail to meet expectations within the first 18 months, it’s important to look past resumes and hone in on true predictors of future success. How do you really identify what candidates will leave a positive mark on your organization? Check out four key strategies for interviewing top technical talent below.
Read between the bullet points with behavioral interview questions
When interviewing any tech candidate, there are critical questions that you need to ask about their expertise. You’ll likely skim through their resume and ask them to explain their experiences writing in C# or about their role in developing a BI platform in their previous position. While this can help you gauge whether or not they have the technical expertise to thrive in your role, the responses are easily rehearsed and not useful in determining what type of worker this candidate will actually be. This is where behavioral interviewing questions come into play.
Behavioral interviewing questions are designed to challenge candidates to think past the points on their resume and any responses they may have rehearsed. Instead of focusing on hard skills and experience, these questions aim to uncover a candidate’s values, their natural tendencies and preferences, and how they react in the face of adversity. According to a report from LinkedIn, behavioral interview questions are critical for uncovering six traits that all signify a candidate’s potential. These skills are adaptability, culture add, collaboration, leadership, growth potential, and prioritization.
So, what questions can uncover these traits? We’ve included a handful of behavioral interview questions to get you started:
- Tell me about a challenging moment in your previous position and how you worked to overcome it.
- What energizes you at work? Reversely, what drains you?
- Have you ever encountered a workplace conflict? If so, how did you manage to resolve it?
- Tell me about a time where you did more than was asked of you on an assignment. What inspired you to give 110%?
When interviewing technical talent, avoid quirky questions like “How many cars travel across a bridge each day?” or “How many haircuts do you think happen in America every year?” According to Lazlo Block, former SVP of People Operations at Google, although the company once used them, these type of questions are a waste of time, don’t predict anything, and only make the interviewer feel smart. Fun fact: Both of the questions above were once used in Google interviews (before Lazlo weighed in, presumably).
Ask them to crack the code (not crack under pressure)
If you’re interviewing technical talent for your team, it’s likely because you’ve already heavily invested resources into a critical initiative. You need to be able to trust that your new team member has the expertise to take the initiative to the next level. In other words, you need to be able to discern when a bullet on a resume that says “Proficient in Java” really just means they dabbled in the language years ago.
While asking a candidate to demonstrate their capabilities during a whiteboarding test might seem like a clear solution, it’s not always the best one. In fact, some experts believe that real-time whiteboarding tests contribute to hiring biases against candidates who might suffer from anxiety, equating it to asking coders to act as stage performers. Even the cleverest tech professional can crack under pressure. Here are a few ways to conduct a technical interview while eliminating the potential bias of whiteboard tests:
- Ask a candidate to review code and have an open conversation with them. What do they notice? What might they change?
- Send them a problem to solve a day or two before the interview. Review and discuss the code during the interview.
- Ask them about challenging problems they have solved before and have them walk through their steps and thought processes.
Think outside of the desk
When they come in for an interview, all candidates are expecting to shake your hand, sit down at a desk, and speak with no more than a handful of people about the points on their resume. They rehearse for this moment for hours. It’s not a natural interaction, and as such, might mask tell-tale signs that a candidate might not be the right fit for a position.
So, how do you get a sense for who your candidate truly is when interviewing technical talent? Step back from the desk and put them in authentic situations. Give them a tour of your office and ask if they think they could seem themselves in that type of environment. Have them sit down to talk with people who would be on their team, not just hiring managers. Nerves are natural so don’t count them as red flags, but their enthusiasm and engagement should be palpable. Feel free to get creative here but the end goal should be putting the candidate in a position where they can let their walls down and interact with your organization before you make a hiring decision.
Eliminate the guess-work, consider contract-to-hire employees
The truth is, the best way to tell if someone is truly a great asset to your organization is to see them in action on your team. In traditional hiring arrangements, if you find that the candidate performs better on paper than in real life, you’ll find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. To avoid this, many businesses are turning to contract-to-hire tech talent. This arrangement allows both the business and the technologist to decide if the position is a good match while leaving the door open for a permanent offer.
At TriCom, we connect businesses with the technical talent they need on terms that work for them. Whether you need an entire team for a project, one employee to fill a short-term gap, or are searching for a permanent team-member – we’ll take care of it. Reach out today and let us know what tech position you’re looking to fill!
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