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Beyond questions: A framework for interviewing IT candidates

August 7, 2017 | By Lisa Dare, TEKsystems Digital Content Strategist

interviewer sits across from table with hands clasped

So, you’re interviewing a candidate tomorrow morning (or maybe right after lunch) and you're looking for a few good questions to ask. Like most people, you probably search online for questions that resonate with you. But after you process your notes from the interview, you find you still don’t know everything you want to know about the candidate.

You can avoid this by knowing what you want to find out ahead of time—a framework for evaluating the candidate instead of a series of discrete questions.

Here’s a suggestion for where to start:

1. Does the candidate have the knowledge and experience to perform this position with a reasonable amount of training?

Generally, an adaptable candidate who likes to learn and can figure things out should be given more latitude if they don’t have the precise set of technical skills you seek. Here are some questions for evaluating technical skills and ability to learn:

  • Describe your approach to (something from the candidate’s resume)? What other options did you consider?
  • How would you solve this typical problem that might arise in the job? What resources would you turn to if you got stuck?
  • Which tech blogs do you read? How do you stay current on changes?

2. Do they have the right soft skills?  

The job functions will determine how to weight different soft skills, such as writing abilities, persuasiveness, innovative mindset, flexibility, detail orientation, and comfort with ambiguity or structure. Skilled interviewers often use behavioral questions to evaluate soft skills. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Persuasiveness: Tell me about a time you had to convince someone senior to you or in another department to change their minds.
  • Comfort with ambiguity: Describe a time you were given a project with inadequate information. How did you approach it?

3. Will they be a good fit for our corporate and team culture?

Culture fit is a major reason candidates thrive or wither in a job. But you should be careful to evaluate culture fit with your intellect, not your gut. Your instincts are likely to steer you to choose people the most like you, not the ones with the most to offer.

  • Tell me about the boss you most and least liked working with. Why?
  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in?

4. Are they excited about this opportunity or just looking for the job?

Since an engaged worker will stay longer and work more productively, it’s important to gauge how the candidate feels about your opportunity.

  • What excites you most about this position?
  • What excites you about this job or company?

5. And a bonus: Does the candidate bring something extra to the table?

  • What’s the project you are most proud of? Why?
  • What do you want to tell me about yourself that’s not on your resume?

Some useful online resources for role-specific questions:


Data scientist

End user support


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