Most hiring managers know that finding the best technology professionals takes more than just an assessment of technical qualifications. A candidate's interpersonal skills and initiative, for example, are important factors in determining job fit, and it's only through specific tech interview questions that you'll see if the individual will excel in an IT job.
So asking a predictable question like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” probably won't offer many helpful insights into a candidate's potential. Here are seven tech interview questions designed to elicit more targeted responses and better insights into an individual's fit for the job:
1. Can you tell me about a recent project or process that you made better, faster, smarter or more efficient?
You need IT professionals who understand the big-picture impact of their work. Candidates should be able to explain how their efforts made a difference for their employers.
2. You’ve just been assigned to a project involving a new technology. How would you get started?
This question will give you insight into how people handle technology products with which they have less expertise. What steps would they take to overcome a knowledge gap and ensure they still get things done on time?
3. What technology-related blogs, podcasts, tweets or websites do you follow? Do you share any information yourself online?
This reveals whether candidates are staying up on trends. Do they have a sincere interest in IT and keep up on changes in the field and your industry?
4. How do you keep your technology skills current?
Has the candidate taken online classes, or do they spend some of their spare time coding or troubleshooting technology issues? Have they taken on work projects in areas of tech they want to learn more about?
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5. What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
This question can clue you in to personality characteristics or qualities that may not be apparent through the resume or traditional interview questions.
6. Can you tell me about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted at work, such as a project that failed or being passed over for a promotion?
Everyone deals with professional disappointment at some point. What you want to know is how people handle these situations. The best candidates will use setbacks as springboards toward positive changes, such as getting a certification that will help position themselves for advancement next time there’s an opportunity.
7. What are your favorite and least favorite technology products, and why?
In addition to learning whether people like the products you use at your company, this question helps you evaluate enthusiasm and knowledge. Do candidates get animated when discussing the benefits of certain tools? Do they seem to have a solid grasp of the positive and negative features of different technologies?
Interviewing a developer? Here are additional tech interview questions you can ask:
- Are you using code from GitHub or contributing code to an open-source project in GitHub? Do you answer questions on Stack Overflow
- What are some practices you use to help prevent a developer on the team from breaking the build? When the build does break, how do you help fix it?
- What do you do when you get stuck with a problem you can’t solve?
- Describe to me some bad code you’ve read or inherited lately.
Remember to allow time at the end of the discussion for candidates to ask you questions. This is not only beneficial to applicants — it also clues you in to what matters to them. For instance, you may reconsider your interest in a prospect if he seems overly concerned about salary and benefits at the first interview. Or you may be impressed when someone asks questions that show she researched your firm thoroughly before your meeting.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect more current information.