Six Tips for Hiring the Right Tech Talent

Thursday Apr 13th 2017 by Don Tennant
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Hiring consultant Scott Wintrip has shared great advice on how to optimize your hiring practices so that you’re better equipped to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong people. Here are six guidelines he’s come up with to help accomplish that.

I’ve spoken with quite a few tech pros over the years who have told me that the source of their biggest headaches around implementing technology can almost invariably be traced not to the technology itself, but to the people who have been hired to implement it. So what can you do to give yourself the best shot at hiring the right people for the job?

In a new book, “High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant,” global hiring consultant Scott Wintrip has shared some great advice on how to optimize your hiring practices so that you’re better equipped to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong people. Here are six guidelines he’s come up with to help accomplish that:

Embrace experiential interviews. The standard approach to hiring is to conduct interviews in which candidates talk about work. Not only is this a huge drain on time, it's also an inaccurate way to assess whether a candidate fits your job. That's why many business owners have replaced traditional interviews with experiential, or "hands-on," interviews. In a hands-on interview, you experience the candidate doing sample work. If you're hiring for a [tech support] role, for example, he or she can help solve [an employee’s] problem. By watching the candidate in action, you save time, while also making a more accurate assessment of whether or not someone is a good fit.

Cultivate a diverse work force. It's no secret that diversity in the workplace is a good thing. An inclusive work force helps businesses better serve their diverse client base, and research even shows that the most diverse work forces are likely to generate better financial results for a business. Slight adjustments to your hiring profiles can substantially increase the flow of diverse talent. For example, for years a large banking institution had required candidates to have finance degrees. However, they noticed that top candidates at competing banks didn't have this requirement. They changed their own requirements and asked for candidates with any type of two- or four-year business degree. This led to a richer flow of highly diverse talent, resulting in some of the best hires they ever made.

Line up key people before you need them. Some roles are more vital than others, and when these roles are left unfilled, they can harm your business. Plus, the extra work usually falls on your already-overflowing plate. Instead of waiting until an employee in an essential job quits or gives notice to start recruiting, do yourself a favor and recruit ahead of time. Dedicating 30 minutes to recruiting each week pays off by creating a pipeline of potential talent ready to be hired the moment that vital job becomes open.

Use a hiring team to avoid making bad hires. Even the best interviewers routinely overlook crucial details during the interview process. This may prompt them to hire employees who don't perform as expected and cripple the company over time. But a hiring team can solve this common problem — there are four distinct hiring styles. You are either a Tackler, a Teller, a Tailor or a Tester. Each hiring style has strengths and blind spots, so it is important to have people who fit each style on your hiring team. Together you will be able to notice any red flags while interviewing job candidates, and work together to choose the best person for the job.

Make the most of referrals. Word of mouth is a great way to find talent and fill open positions in your business. Ask for referrals among all your networks, including vendors, former coworkers in good standing, present coworkers, business associates, and friends and family. Investing just a few minutes each day in referral recon pays off in dividends. Don't hesitate to make a quick phone call or send a short email to anyone you think might know someone great. It takes almost no effort, and could result in new talent for your organization.

Network with a candidate recycling program. Sharing your mismatched talent with other similar companies is the gift that keeps on giving. With this type of arrangement, companies pass along the talented candidates they can't use instead of hoarding the talent for themselves. They can set up sharing agreements between competitors, they can agree to "borrow" talent and temporarily loan out individuals to one another, or they can even compensate organizations for locating viable candidates. This form of networking allows the talent to flow efficiently, and helps hiring managers staff their organizations better and faster. Businesses should realize that competition is healthy, and it signals that an industry is viable. Healthy industries create opportunities for everyone, and candidate recycling programs build a mutually beneficial stream of prospective employees for those businesses.

A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

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