Interview Tips That Help You Find Your Company’s Perfect Technical Match

By Chelsea Babin

It’s February and love is in the air! If you’re looking to hire technical professionals who are the perfect match for your organization, you may need to review your interview process to make finding the right fit a little easier. These 10 interview tips will help you find your company’s perfect technical match so you can build a solid technical team.

1. The More Details, The Less Stress: When people are stressed out—as they often are during an interview—they may not perform up to their usual standards. If you want to find the right technical match, it helps to take steps to reduce stress for the professionals you’re interviewing. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to offer a lot of details before the interview. From your company dress code to the names and job titles of people they’ll be speaking with during the interview, you can put candidates at ease by sharing details and get a more accurate idea of who they are and how they’d perform at your company.

2. Culture Fit and Adaptability: While you will want to make sure the person you’re interviewing fits in well with the rest of your team, there is such a thing as an over emphasis on cultural fit or, more accurately, a total emphasis on cultural fit with no consideration given to adaptability. For the most part, technical professionals can adapt to and thrive in a variety of work environments. A person who wants to work alone won’t do well in a collaborative, client-facing position but a person who only has experience working in a large office could still adapt and do well in a smaller, more enclosed space. What you really want to ask is, “have you ever been in a work environment that was different for your norm? How did you adapt and adjust?”

3. Focus on Real Situations and Real Solutions: Asking the standard questions like “what are your biggest weaknesses?” may seem like a safe bet, but this isn’t always the case. If you want to get a more accurate, in-depth idea of each technical professional’s capabilities and an idea of how they’ll fit in on your team, focusing on real situations and asking for real solutions is your best bet. For example, you could explain a problem your technical team regularly struggles with and ask the candidate to walk you through how they would solve it. You could also ask a question like, “have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to give instructions to a team you don’t regularly work with? How did you approach this situation and what were the results?”

4. Avoid Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen: While you should never conduct an interview one-on-one and then hire someone immediately after, you also want to avoid the “too many cooks in the kitchen” interview phenomenon. Bring in a few key people to ask them questions and be a part of the interview process but be careful not to belabor or overly elongate the process.

5. Take Copious Notes: If you want to be able to make a cogent argument for or against every candidate but you’re interviewing multiple people in a day or candidates for the same position across a week or longer, it’s natural to forget a few important details along the way. That’s why it’s so essential to take copious notes during the interview or to have someone in the interview whose main focus is taking notes. When you’re ready to evaluate candidates against each other and make a final decision, you’ll have more than your recollection and a gut feeling to go off of.

6. Ask for Specific Measures of Success: Would you rather hire a candidate who says they’ve, “increased revenue at their current company” or who says they’ve, “developed a solution that increased revenue by 20% while decreasing downtime by 30%”? The truth is, neither answer is quite detailed enough. Instead, you want to find out specifically what they did, going into detail about the development process itself, so you can see what they’re capable of. If you’re after the specifics (and you should be), you need to dive in deeper when candidates give you simple, surface-level answers. A few examples of questions that will help you dig in are “what tasks were you given?”, “what actions did you take?”, “what results did you measure?”,  “what challenges did you encounter along the way and how did you find the right solution?”, etc.

7.  Quickly Transition to Technical Questions: For the most part, the reason the majority of people you interview won’t get hired is because they don’t have the right skills for the job. That’s why it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend the bulk of your time at the start of the interview on going through their resume line by line. Instead, ask each candidate to introduce themselves and have a few minutes of questions about what they’re interested in doing and what they’re most excited about. Then, quickly transition into the more technical questions so you can evaluate right away if they’re qualified for the position. Once you have a solid idea that they have the knowledge and expertise you’re looking for, then you can dive deeper into their resume or ask culture-driven questions.

8. Ask Thoughtful Questions During the Coding Interview: Because most programmers aren’t in the habit of explaining everything they do while they code, you may get less information than you’d like out of technical professionals during a coding interview. Have a few thoughtful questions to help prompt these thorough explanations so both you and the candidate have an easier time during the technical interview.

9. Three Adjectives: Another way to circumvent the traditional strengths and weaknesses questions while still getting a better sense of who the candidate is and what they can do is to ask this instead, “Think of the managers you’ve had and people you’ve worked with, if they had to describe you in just three adjectives, what would they be?” This reframes the question and causes people to think a little differently about themselves. And, when you get an answer, dig in a little deeper. For example, if they say “analytical”, ask them to give an explanation of when they were analytical on the job.

10. Sell the Job: Because technical professionals have more opportunities than ever before, you can’t forget to take some time during the interview process to sell the job. Get the candidates you really love excited for the position. Make sure you mention all of the enticing benefits you offer, the fun company events that occur, the thrilling projects they’ll get to work on, the training or growth opportunities available to them at your organization, and anything else that will help them see how happy they could be at your organization. And, after you’ve gotten to know them a little better through the questions you’ve asked, explain to them why you think they would really do well and fit in at your organization. That way, when you extend the offer, they’ll eagerly accept.

With a shortage of available technical talent and interview processes growing longer and longer, these 10 interview tips will help you cut through the noise and find the right technical match for your organization. And, if you are still struggling to find the right talent, a trusted Camden Kelly Search Executive can be like a technical matchmaker to help you expand your team.