Technical Interviews (for the non-technical interviewer)

Posted by SRA Admin on Jan 28 2016


Hiring technical roles has become part and parcel of nearly every business. For a business that is based on technology - like a website or software company - this makes sense, but today even non-technical companies need to hire highly technical employees to run their sites, fix their computers, and otherwise provide technological support. As a hiring manager or recruiter, how can you be conducting interviews for these specialized positions if you do not have the requisite technical knowledge? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Technical Interview?

Every interview has the ultimate goal of determining if the applicant has a relevant skillset for the open role and if he or she would be a cultural fit for the company. Interviewing for skills like leadership, marketing expertise, or organization is largely a matter of asking the right questions. For technical roles, skills can more easily be tested and therefore more definitively evaluated. This process is known as a technical interview. Technical interviews should not take the place of the other important pieces of the hiring process, such as phone screening or a cultural fit interview. Rather, they can act as a supplement to those standard interviewing techniques for employers in technical industries.

The Right Questions to Ask in a Technical Interview

The specific questions and methodology of a technical interview will vary depending on the actual role. However, the overall tenor of the questions should be the same. According to one web developer and blogger, the most important thing to do is ask questions that are both fair and meaningful. That means instead of trying to trick candidates with overly complex tests that will never be applicable to their position, use questions that are directly relevant to what they would do for your company. It is also a good idea to purposefully sequence questions so that an error in the beginning of the interview does not result in an inability to complete the rest of the skill tests.

What if You Don’t Have Technical Expertise?

Most hiring managers will not have the technical experience or knowledge necessary to conduct a technical interview themselves. There are a few interviewing techniques for employers that a hiring manager can employ in order to overcome this hurdle. Perhaps the most useful resource in this scenario is a technical recruiter. Barring that kind of specialist, it is a good idea to seek out a technical advisor for the technical interview. Either find someone -- such as a mentor or consultant -- who will be able to conduct the interview for you, or get that person to go through the interview process with you in order to determine the right questions and tests to posit.

The beauty of a well run company is that there are people with vastly different skillsets that work there. While it may feel like a challenge to conduct a technical interview as a non-technical person, a little preparation can go a long way towards finding the right fit for your team or your client.

Topics: technology, hiring

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