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Mailbag: Hiring the right person for the job

Jan 22, 20042 mins
Data CenterIT Leadership

* Readers share their thoughts and techniques on interviewing

A recent newsletter cited a staffing expert’s tips for identifying leading job candidates, and you were kind enough to share your own great suggestions regarding interviewing questions and techniques. (See for the original newsletter).

Mark Strickland, who just began a new CIO job this week, sent me a detailed outline he uses to evaluate prospective staffers. Categories include aspects of appearance, personality, intelligence, verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills, flexibility, desire, character, work ethic, related experience, business perspective, and other factors to consider. For example, what degree of effort has the candidate expended to develop himself? Does the candidate see travel as an inconvenience or an opportunity?

Strickland then rates each attribute using a 10-point scale, with 10 being an “individual without peer” and 1 being “forget it.” These ratings then make it easier to objectively compare candidates.

Darrell Smith also does lots of prep work to develop interview questions, noting that questions about a favorite food or movie are weak and ineffectual.” I have gone through a process to determine actual scenarios that are the most challenging, and a list of success criteria as well as failure indicator,” the IT manager says. Operating that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior, he builds his questions to flesh out as much as possible about past experiences, reactions, and so forth.

“For example, do they prefer to be given an overview of the assignment and determine the details for themselves, or do they lean towards wanting the exact details outlined and very specific expectations of how they should proceed. While neither answer is ‘wrong’, you should know which one is more appropriate for the open position.”

Brian Abrigo points out that the previous newsletter didn’t discuss questions that get at competency. “Additionally, there should be different levels of behaviors and its associated competencies for different organizational levels,” he says.

Finally, on the matter of asking around about a candidate, Suresh disagrees with contacting many associates of the applicant. “It is not practical nor advisable to contact the range of people you state. To do so would be to violate privacy and trust in some form,” he says.