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How to find out if IT candidates' skills match their resumes

June 06, 2014

Perhaps you don’t know this disturbing fact, but your staff does: Some of the workers you hire aren't qualified for their jobs. According to our polling, 40 percent of IT professionals say it’s common for IT workers to earn positions they’re wildly under-qualified for. Many resumes contain falsehoods, from exaggerations to outright lies.

So how can you make sure you hire the star candidates who live up to their resumes? Beefing up your screening process will help you avoid a costly hiring mistake. That doesn't mean you should take a kitchen sink approach to screening, though. An overly cumbersome hiring process will lead candidates to think negatively of you. If your hiring process drags on for more than a month, you’re probably alienating the best candidates. 

A thoughtful approach to screening includes three crucial steps:

1. Technical testing

The first element of a thorough screening process for IT candidates is the technical test. If you’re not administering them, you’re probably not weeding out the candidates with inflated resumes.

2. Bringing in your team

Valuable as they are, automated assessments have limitations. Some people excel in taking tests but don't have the experience to apply their skills. How do you dig deeper and really confirm technical prowess? Having your technical subject matter experts (SMEs) speak to candidates will help you gain a better understanding of how deep the candidates’ skills really are, as well as softer skills like how they work through problems.

As much as you hate taking your busy SMEs off their projects, letting them spend an hour with a candidate is an investment in hiring a colleague who can pull his or her weight. At TEKsystems, our recruiters perform cultural assessments, but they sometimes have to lean on technical resources to screen job seekers. So we ask our in-house technical resources or our most trusted contractors to speak to candidates, which gives a much deeper picture of their technical experience and skill.

3. Conducting useful reference checks

No screening process is complete without reference checks. Two critical points about references: First, you need to speak to former supervisors. Colleague references allow a candidate to cherry-pick from a wide pool of people. Second, when calling references, make sure to ask about both technical skills and softer traits that are important to your company, such as the ability to work self-directed or as part of a team. And if the supervisor you talk to gives perfunctory answers, dig deeper; they may be hesitant to say anything negative about a candidate. If you work with an IT staffing firm to recruit, insist on seeing the results of the references.

Want to learn more? Read our white paper The Importance of a Quality Screening Process or find out how a quality IT recruiter can save you time by finding and screening candidates

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