Interviewing IT Technicians



We’ve been learning about the best way to interview edu IT staff in various guises for almost 10 years now. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been advising a couple of other organisations on how to approach technician style interviews as well as doing our own hires, and I wanted to share a few quick thoughts.

  1. Don’t just ask for CVs. You’ll get more applications than you think and won’t be able to easily filter.
  2. Don’t get over-obsessed with questions, conversations are more valuable. We gained more in 15 minute informal chats than have done in previous formal technical tests and interviews.**
  3. Communication skills are just as important as technical ability. Our guys are increasingly working with staff and students on using tools rather than sitting in dark rooms fixing them.*
  4. The education element is really important. What do they think about ICT vs. computer science? What exciting new technology would you like to see us add to our classroom practice? Why?
  5. Ethos is another important word. ‘Do you think we should block Facebook’ is a great conversation starter, teaches you a lot about how an individual might fit in with your vision.***
  6. Talk about the bad. These candidates will have researched your organisation in advance, had a tour, met lots of staff, etc. Ask what they would do to improve the school. Ask senior candidates what they would change when they join. The new hire should make you better.

* I’m not suggesting you hire the chatty one that hasn’t heard of unix, but you see the point…
** I read a post ages ago (37signals I think..), they do similar and start by asking candidates what they did yesterday. Perfect.
*** We also do plenty of work on developing that vision if you’re not sure how your conversation about that particular topic would go..

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