Are You Conducting Post-Interview Reviews?

January 29th, 2016

The hiring process often involves multiple interviewers talking to multiple interviewees. With that many candidates and resumes being passed around, it’s easy to lose track of who said what, who left a positive impression, and who left a negative impression. If you don’t have a process to pull together everyone’s input, the final hiring decision may be made based on fading memories. An effective post-interview review process ensures that information is shared and documented so you can refer to it once you’re ready to make a final decision.

Get Input from Everyone Who Spoke to the Candidate

If you have people meet with the candidate but don’t get their thoughts, that meeting was a waste of time. Solicit opinions from everyone who spent time with them, even if they only took them to lunch. Let junior staffers speak first to make sure they aren’t pressured to conform to their boss’s opinions.

Talk About Details

Go beyond gut feelings to discuss the specific ways the candidate left both positive and negative impressions. It’s important to identify whether there were any discrepancies in how the candidate presented themselves to the multiple interviewers. If anyone has specific concerns about the candidate, they should be shared with the group.

Keep Track of Candidates in a Standard Way

Use a consistent set of criteria so all interviewees are evaluated on the same metrics. Make sure the criteria are relevant to the position, and don’t have so many that providing ratings becomes a chore. You can assign a score to each category and also come up with an overall ranking of the interviewees. This will help you decide who to extend an offer to and how to proceed if they turn you down.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Schedule the Review

You don’t have to have a review meeting after each interview—it’s fine to discuss more than one candidate—but if you’re bringing in a series of candidates over a series of weeks, you should have a meeting every week or two to make sure candidates are discussed while you still remember them.

Working with a staffing agency can help bring in better candidates, and simplify and streamline your interview and post-interview process. InReach IT Solutions will work with you to understand the skills your open positions require and provide strong potential hires for your consideration. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you solve your staffing problems.

Retaining Top IT Talent

January 22nd, 2016

The most effective way to meet your staffing needs is to hire good performers and then retain them. In the IT industry, both parts of that are tough: There are lots of people with superficial knowledge of technology but fewer with real expertise. And there’s lots of demand for staff with real expertise, so top employees know they’ve always got the option of taking a new position somewhere else. In order to keep your best employees, you need to make sure they continue to find their jobs rewarding.

Financial Rewards

The bottom-line reward for many employees is simply their bottom line. Salary surveys are published in the technical press and by technical recruiters, so your staff will know if they’re being fairly paid and what kind of increase they can achieve if they leave. So it’s important that you provide competitive financial rewards, starting with base salary and an annual increase that bumps pay to keep up with inflation and industry trends. In some industries, bonuses and stock options may be routinely expected. Other financial rewards include retirement plans, insurance coverage, and paid time off.

Technical Challenge

Most technical staff enjoy working with current technology, so make sure they have the opportunity to develop new technical skills each year. This means letting people work on different projects; tempting as it is to keep the “expert” assigned to their current project, let them move to a new project. You’ll still be able to ask them questions, which you can’t do if they get too bored and move to another firm. Also budget for your staff to take training, and don’t limit training to technologies you have immediate plans to use.

Career Development

Make sure staying with your company long term aligns with your talent’s career goals. Don’t assume what those goals are; make a discussion of goals part of the year-end review process. Create a development plan that addresses the employee’s wishes, whether that means they want to become a technical expert, they want to understand the business better, or they want to develop leadership skills and move out of the individual contributor role.

Before you can retain top IT talent, you need to hire top IT talent. InReach IT Solutions has connections to a deep pool of IT workers who can meet your needs. Contact us to learn how we can help you hire workers you’ll want to retain.

4 Common Reference-Checking Mistakes

January 15th, 2016

Job seekers are selling themselves, so you can’t take everything they say at face value. Their resumes and answers to interview questions put the best light on everything, and possibly even stretch the truth slightly. To get a fuller perspective of their experience and capabilities, you need to talk with others who’ve worked with them. That means checking references. But how do you get the most out of doing that? To make reference checks meaningful, you need to avoid these four mistakes:

  1. Not requiring professional references. Even when hiring someone straight from school, it’s important that the references are people who’ve worked with the candidate in a professional capacity. While other references can provide insight into the candidate’s character, you need more than that; you need references who can validate the candidate’s technical capabilities. Only former supervisors can give you that assessment. Former co-workers can offer information, but their perspective differs from someone the candidate reported to.
  1. Asking only closed questions. If you ask only yes/no questions, you’re likely to get only yes/no answers. Leading questions will also limit the kinds of answers you get. References will offer much more useful information if you ask open-ended questions that let them provide details that support their opinions. Don’t just write down their answers and move on to your next planned question; ask follow-up questions based on their responses to explore the response further.
  1. Waiting until late in the hiring process. Reference checks are often conducted as a formality before sending out a job offer. In reality, they should be checked before you decide you want to make an offer. Identify your top two or three candidates and interview references for all of them. If you conduct effective reference checks, you can use the references’ opinions to promptly follow-up interviews with the candidates or as important information in choosing between them.
  1. Not hiring someone based on bad feedback from a reference. It’s true a bad reference can be a source of concern. If the reference name was provided by the candidate, they clearly expected the reference would provide positive information. However, you need to consider the feedback in light of all the other information you have as well as the requirements of the position you’re hiring for. The negative remarks of the reference might relate to a technology or interpersonal skill that isn’t important in your open position.

Bonus: The biggest reference-checking mistake? Not doing one.

Increase the odds of getting positive feedback when you check references by interviewing candidates prescreened by a staffing agency. InReach IT Solutions has more than 20 years’ experience finding top-notch candidates. Contact us to learn how we can help you fill your open positions.

The Difference Between Leaders and Managers

January 8th, 2016

Once technical workers move out of the individual contributor role, where the main responsibility is to work hands-on with the technology, the technical career ladder offers leadership and management roles. Projects may have project leaders, technical leads, team leads, as well as project managers. Every company can define the job responsibilities differently, but there are similarities between all the “leadership” roles. The difference between a lead role and a manager role can be subtle, but it’s important to understand in order to identify the best worker for the position.

Project Leader Responsibilities

In technical projects, roles with “lead” titles usually aren’t fully hands-on but aren’t completely removed from the technical work either. Individuals in these positions know the details of the technology. They have a vision for how the project should be executed and how the product should develop over time. They make key decisions regarding choice of technology and the architecture and design of the system being built. The project leader usually assigns specific tasks to other members of the team and oversees their work, but doesn’t have the administrative responsibility for performance reviews. Project leaders are responsible for identifying when a project is in trouble and reporting problems to the project manager; while they can propose solutions, the project manager is usually the one with the responsibility of speaking with customers to reach a resolution.

Project Manager Responsibilities

Project managers have overall responsibility for a project that extends beyond the technical details. They work closely with the business to make sure the functionality being built will meet business needs. They make sure the project is staffed appropriately and the budget for tools, training, and other needs is spent wisely. Their staffing responsibilities include performance reviews and making hiring and firing decisions. When there are issues that affect the ability to deliver on schedule, they coordinate with the business to make sure a change in scope, budget, or delivery date is acceptable. While the project leader works with the quality assurance team to address quality issues, the project manager will typically make the decision of whether the quality is acceptable for shipping the product or not.

Whether you’re hiring a leader or a manager, working with a staffing agency like InReach IT Solutions can speed the hiring process. Our experience lets us screen candidates to make sure their skills fit the position. Contact us to learn how we can help you find the right people to fill your open jobs.