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12 common IT hiring mistakes and how to avoid them

Rich Hein | Feb. 1, 2013
Bringing a new employee into your IT department has the potential to make or break your team. Avoid these common hiring mistakes and build a team of IT pros that fire on all cylinders.

That's why finding the right candidate is so important. As a hiring manager, you need to do everything you can to minimize the risk throughout the hiring process. Here are 12 common mistakes IT managers make, along with advice on how to take a more successful approach.

1. Not being well-prepared for the interview. Let's face it: Most managers are busy people, which can lead to a common IT hiring mistake. According to Ron Lichty, co-author of "Managing the Unmanageable," most hiring managers don't adequately prepare for interviews.

"The typical hiring manager reads the resume on the way to meet the candidate. That's not preparation," says Lichty. A job interview can be a subjective situation from both perspectives. As a hiring manager, you need to be sure you are weighing all your candidates against the same criteria. If you've done a good job with your description, you should be able to use that to help measure one resume or candidate against another.

Another important mantra for IT hiring managers, according to Licthy: Always be hiring. "To be effective at always recruiting means being out in the technical community meeting potential hires, staying connected with your network and building relationships," says Lichty.

2. Not performing a phone interview. Not screening candidates is another mistake that managers make early in the hiring process. In a previous article on identifying superstar developers, director of recruiting at Lextech Chad Lily discussed the importance of using this time to weed out candidates who wouldn't make it through the interviewing process. Many times a 20-minute call can save you hours of interviewing and ensure the people who actually make it to the interview are qualified.

3. Having an interview instead of a discussion."The interviewer should focus on asking experience-based questions. Managers should dig deeper than the typical "what are your strengths and weaknesses'," says Paul Silvio, senior vice president of Modis, an IT staffing firm.

Modis, for example, has a format where instead of interviewees just saying they worked on a certain project, prospective employees must explain their individual participation and what they were able to make, save or achieve for the company.

4. Not getting programmer candidates to demonstrate their coding prowess. "It's essential to ask questions that elicit a picture of their understanding of programming. It's critical that you ask them to do some design and to write some code," says Lichty. This will give you insight into how the prospect will react and problem-solve in the world of IT.

5. Not having career paths for employees. While this might not seem relevant to this article, it is. " Career Mapping is probably the most important management tool we use internally. Figuring out where someone wants to go and will be successful is one of the most important frameworks we use for promotion trajectory and managing folks over time," says Michael Rosenbaum, CEO of Catalyst IT Services. The reason: To get the best talent you have to have something to offer. If you can demonstrate a clear path for advancement, it will make it that much easier to attract and retain talent.


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