Why You Should Involve Your Tech Team Early in the Hiring Process

Most IT hiring managers involve their in-house technical team at some point in the hiring process -- but it's often later, during the interviews.

This article on the IT hiring process, by Robert Half Technology senior executive director John Reed, suggests you involve your IT team from the beginning of the candidate selection process.

Reed advises asking employees who will be technical peers to the new hire to help develop the job description, for example, to ensure it is accurate and give you an idea of what sort of IT candidate is likely to thrive at your firm.

He also suggests asking tech team members for help sorting through resumes to narrow the field, and being strategic about what who you choose to conduct technical interviews before the candidate comes in. You want team members who are closest to the responsibilities the new hire will be working on, as well as those who are clear and concise communicators.

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Technology is mission-critical to almost every business today, so it’s important for an employer to choose the most qualified IT candidate for each aspect of its tech team. The manager is part of the hiring team, of course, but there is value in including other key players, too. Involving technical peers in the selection process is one way to avoid the costly mistake of making a bad hire for your IT department. Managers are typically far from the front lines of IT, so talking with those who deal with the daily nitty-gritty can help you cover all the bases.

Here are some guidelines for when — and how much — you might want to involve in-house technical staff in the IT candidate selection process:

Writing the Job Description

A great hire starts with writing a strong job description. Requesting input from employees who will be technical peers to the new hire can help ensure the job description is not only accurate in terms of responsibilities, but also sheds light on what type of IT candidate is likely to thrive in the company’s work environment.

Be sure to ask your team about any certifications, programming languages and other specifics that the IT candidate should bring to the role. Technical peers should have a good handle on what hard and soft skills are necessary for the position. They can also enhance the job description by adding information about cross-team and cross-departmental functions.

Before the Interview

To get started, figure out which technical team members are likely to give you the best and most relevant feedback on an IT candidate. For example, if you’re looking to fill a developer position, ask a few developer colleagues to read through resumes you’ve already culled to further narrow the list of candidates. Go with technical peers who will work closely with the new employee, or the ones who have the most experience with the duties and responsibilities outlined in the job description. Choose employees who are adept at clear and concise communication.

As with any process that involves several people, asking technical peers for their input could result in a “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome. That’s why for a hiring team, it’s best to go with just one or two IT colleagues whose opinions and judgment you value, rather than including everyone in a relevant work group. To streamline the process, schedule group interviews with each candidate instead of one-on-ones.

During the Interview

Don’t waste time by rehashing resume bullet points, as testing will confirm a candidate’s proficiency in certain software and applications (if you fairly administer tests to objectively measure these skills). Instead, have your tech colleagues ask candidates for specific examples of their accomplishments in the IT arena. This way you can see how candidates have applied their knowledge and whether they have a track record of success. You and your team want to ask interview questions that will shed light on how an IT candidate thinks and would fit within a team.

Allow time for your technical peers to pose a few scenarios, perhaps something along the lines of an actual predicament they’ve encountered and what the IT candidate would have done to resolve it. This allows you to gauge the potential employee’s problem-solving skills, and your IT colleagues will know whether the response was spot on or way off. This process can also help you determine if an IT candidate has the depth of knowledge and experience advertised in his or her job application materials.

After the Interview

To avoid getting sidetracked by a bottleneck of clashing opinions, you may want to ask members of the hiring team to write down their ranking of each IT candidate and to list each potential hire’s assets and weaknesses. Remember: Your job is to hire the IT candidate who is likely to be the best fit for the role and to contribute the most to your organization — and that person may not be the consensus pick.