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How to identify soft skills in IT job candidates

Jen A. Miller | Aug. 21, 2014
As IT departments are called upon to play larger, more public roles in today's businesses, the skill set of the ideal IT employee has changed. How can companies identify whether a job candidate has the 'soft skills' to bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the business?

Beyond asking potential tech hires about their hard skills and abilities, include questions that you'd ask people you're hiring in any other part of the company. "IT should come out of behavioral interviewing," Reed says.

In talking about past work experience, or suggesting hypothetical situations, follow up with questions such as the following:

  • "What was your approach to resolving that issue?"
  • "Talk to me about scenarios you've had previously where you've been put in this position."
  • "How did you use your analytical skills to solve those problems?"

Reed says this is "a very different interview process for a lot of people in tech." While you may ask a candidate to architect a tech infrastructure on a whiteboard, make sure to follow up with questions that will help you see how that person would work with a team or interact with customers. Spend as much time in the interview on both hard and soft skills, he says.

What About People Who Aren't Actively Looking for a Job?
If you're recruiting from a pool of people who aren't active job seekers, you can also look at a possible candidate's interests and activities outside of their work lives, says Pete Kazanjy. He's the co-founder of TalentBin by Monster, a company that recruiters use to find what TalentBin calls "unfindable passive candidates" people who companies want to hire but who aren't actively looking to change jobs.

"Individuals signify this kind of information naturally by virtue of what they're doing on the Web as opposed to a more artificial approach that's associated with LinkedIn or posting a resume," Kazanjy says.

For example, in addition to being part of an Oracle Database group on MeetUp.com, the person may also be involved in mentoring programs or active in Oracle forums helping other people solve problems. This indicates that he or she would be a good mentor within your company and open to problem-solving activities, he says.

At the same time, someone who picks fights on Twitter or blogs about hating his or her current coworkers may not be the right person to call in for an interview, Kazanjy says. "Those are the sort of things that may fall out in the interview process and reference checking."

 

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