What Stand-Out Skills to Look for When Interviewing an IT Candidate

When you are looking to fill an IT role, it is the relevant technical and/or domain skills that you first look for and most often what gets them in the door to be evaluated by you.  But regardless of their technical acumen, it is the most often the soft skills that become the key difference makers in what makes a qualified IT candidate stand out from the rest.  Soft skills are, regardless of the specific job, becoming more and more critical to success than ever before on the modern, collaborative IT teams responsible for building and supporting the digital systems of today. Here are some of those soft skills you should strongly consider for your IT candidate, regardless of role.

Top Two Stand-Out Skills for IT Success

Communication skillis a critical skill to be evaluating your IT candidates for, regardless of the nature of IT work they will do such as  software development, DevOps, cyber security, or any other IT infrastructure or architecture job.  And we typically break down communication skills in two forms: one, explaining themselves (their experiences, points of view, approaches to solve problems, etc.) as well as, two, collaborating effectively with other team members.  In terms of explaining skills, questions to ask when interviewing candidates is: How well did they understand the functionality of the solution they were building? How big was their team, what was everyone’s role, and what specifically were they responsible for?  How did they work with the other team members to accomplish the technical tasks required to be performed? What was their opinion of solution design and what was would they change if they could?  An individual who can articulate answers to these quite often understands the big picture, their role on the IT team, who they need to work with to be successful, and can evaluate areas for improvement over time in the solutions they are helping to build.  In terms of collaborating skills, the ability to effectively communicate well – with clients, end-users, and stakeholders – is now most often a fundamental requirement for most software jobs. Thus tech professionals, in order to be highly effective, need to be fluent not only in their specific computer language of expertise, but also in written and verbal human language.  The ability to articulate aspects of the IT architecture, translate business needs into technical solutions, and discuss technical challenges with their cross-functional team are quite often just as important as the technical domain knowledge they possess.

Organization skillis another key skill to be evaluating for.  While IT team members can be assigned a work item and/or a trouble ticket to work on, as the work items and trouble tickets begin to pile up it quite often comes down to basic organizational skills that help an IT resource stay highly productive. And with the ever-growing nature of remote teams collaborating in a virtual work environment, the ability for an IT resource to stay organized is critical more than ever to their overall success on the job.  Questions to ask on organizational skill are:  how do you manage multiple assignments with the same deadline?  What is your approach to solving a problem on your own versus asking for assistance?  At what point are you confident that you can both take on and successfully accomplish an assigned work item?    An individual who can articulate answers to these questions quite often have a good sense of how to prioritize work, are not afraid to speak up when they are not clear on an aspect of their work, and know how to proactively reach out for help when they’ve exhausted their ideas on how to best solve a problem. Thus IT candidates who can exhibit a strong level of organization skills are often more valuable than those who cannot.

The Final Decision

Every IT hire comes down to specifics of what is most needed for that specific job.  But being able to successfully screen and hire IT candidates with the above two skills sets has proven to greatly increase an IT candidate’s ability to succeed, regardless of the type of IT job to which they are being hired.

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