Warning Signs When Hiring for a Technical Role
Hiring for a technical role is never easy and a bad hire can be a large financial burden for a large company and catastrophic for a small company. It’s important to get it right. Your instincts about someone are always worth listening to. There are also some warning signs that you should be on the lookout for when evaluating candidates.
1) Job Hopper – Take a good look at how long the candidate lasted in each of their previous roles. Ideally, you are looking for candidates that stay in one place for a minimum of 2-3 years for permanent positions and more than 6 months for contract positions. Even if someone has been doing contract roles, it is still important to look at the length of each contract. As an IT Director, I hired many contractors for short-term project work. When I came across a great contractor, I would always try to get that person onto my next project or onto some other role. I never liked losing a great contractor and most hiring managers will try to keep a great contractor as long as they can. Stay away from contractors that jump from project to project every 3 months. That is not a good sign.
2) Willing to take a large pay cut – I never ask how much a candidate currently makes, but they often volunteer that information. If they are willing to take a large pay cut for your role, find out why. If it is because they want to cut down on travel, work remote, or are financially independent, then great! However, be leery of other less concrete reasons. Try to determine if the candidate will take a new role the minute they get a better offer.
3) Inconsistencies – Look for inconsistencies between the resume and what the candidate tells you or inconsistencies answering similar questions. For example, someone who says they have 6 years in IT but 10 years with C# or someone whose recollection of their experience does not match their resume. Lookout for candidates whose explanations change as you probe deeper.
4) Poor listening skills – During the interview process, there are a few signs to look out for that indicate poor listening skills;a. Can’t stay on topic - You ask a candidate a question and they instead answer a question that you never asked. b. Long drawn out answers – You ask a simple question that deserves a one-word answer and the candidate doesn’t stop talking for the next 15 minutes.c. Not paying attention – You notice the candidate needs refreshing on details or confirms items you’ve already discussed
5) No LinkedIn profile – This one is a bit controversial because there are some people that are leery of social media in general and prefer to not participate in any. This, however, is very rare for tech candidates. LinkedIn does provide a public face for your professional experience and expertise. When someone doesn’t have a profile, it’s certainly worth digging into why.
6) Techno-speak – A candidate should be able to explain their background and experience in technical terms, but too much techno-speak can be a warning sign. Someone that is over the top on the techno-speak either has a difficult time communicating to non-technical people or is trying to use techno-speak to come across as more intelligent or trying to cover up the fact that they don’t know something.
7) Poor writing skills – Communication skills are important, even with technical positions. Technical candidates need to be able to write emails and communicate with others verbally and through writing. You are not looking for the next Pulitzer Prize winner, but they should be able to compose a coherent email. Ask candidates to write a couple of sentences on a given topic. If you need a topic, try this: Do you see the glass half empty or half full and why?
8) H1B – Candidates with H1B visas are a critical part of the IT Talent pool in the United States. Many of the H1B candidates you come across are exceptionally talented, hardworking individuals. The issue is that if a candidate’s job ends, they face having to move back to their country of origin if they do not find work quickly. As a result, they have a huge incentive to find work quickly and may not be completely truthful about their skills, in the hopes that they can land a job. You’ve seen those 9-page resumes with every single technology they have ever heard of listed and bolded all over their resume. Be very cautious with these candidates and probe deeply to determine where the candidate’s real skills lay. Also, be very cautious of bait and switch. This is where you hire base on a phone interview and a different contractor shows up for work. Always make sure you do a face to face or Skype interview with any H1B contractor.
Hiring for a technical position isn't easy, but keeping these warning signs in mind will help you identify potential problems before you make the hire. Always trust your gut instinct and if you need help from a team of IT Professionals that specialize in identifying candidates and conducting technical interviews, Perspective Talent is here to help.
Contact us any time at 469-706-0304 to discuss how we can help you identify and select the best candidates for your needs.