How to Validate a Technical Hire…Even if you don’t Speak Code

For some, working with technical employees seems second nature. They speak the language of developers, mutually understanding each other and building ideas from fruitful conversation. But for others, listening to a developer speak about their craft is like trying to understand someone speaking Pig Latin in a foreign language. If you fall in this second category, this is no fault to you. You’re simply not an expert. In spite of this, your company is expanding, and management has asked you to recruit and select two new IT employees that will develop new mobile applications for your eager customers. How in the world are you going to know who is the best candidate out there for your business to succeed? Messing up and picking the wrong person could cost your company a great deal of money, and could put you out on the street. Thankfully, we have some easy-to-follow tips to for this sort of situation, and might just save you from hiring an impostor.

Tip #1: Seek Help from In-House
Use the resources that are present around you. If there is someone else in your office that is fluent in the technical realm, seek their advice and collaborate with them during the hiring process. Allow them to control the technical portion of the interview and evaluate the candidates based on their judgment. While you may not be fortunate enough to have this help, take advantage of it if you do. However, make sure that your co-worker has a reputation for knowing their stuff as well. Don’t have the blind leading the blind.

Tip #2: Check their Portfolio
If someone is applying for a technical position at your company, it is more than likely that they have worked on technical projects in the past. Review their portfolio, see what they have worked on before, and what contributions they have made to other businesses. But what if they’re just out of college? Many colleges still require students to work on projects or complete internships, so review the work that they have done in these areas as well. As with any other position, a person’s past work is the best indication of how they will perform in the future.

Tip #3: View their Open Source Contributions
One of the beneficial characteristics of the internet is that people around the world are allowed to collaborate and share their talents and expertise to solve a variety of problems. This also applies in the technical world. Coders willingly contribute in a number of ways, such as testing a beta product, or fixing a bug in someone else’s code. Has your candidate done this, and what problems did they help solve through this process? Allow them to show you what open source contributions they have made and what skills they learned from others as a result.

Tip #4: Review their Source Code
Does your candidate’s source code work smoothly, or are there errors and glitches in their work? For this tip, you will need someone with experience in IT. This could come from in-house or from an outside agency, but you will need people that can effectively test their code to make sure that it is not riddled with errors or bugs. If your candidate knows what they are doing, they will have created something that works well and accounts for every situation.

Tip #5: Check the References
This should be a no-brainer, but it’s always a helpful reminder that references are very important. These are people that have spent significant periods of time with your candidates and have seen them work on a day in, day out basis. Not only can they back up the employee’s technical skills, but can also talk about an employee’s ability to manage their time, how they handle stress, how they interact with their co-workers, etc. Additionally, these people will probably have a better knowledge of IT than you do, and will know if the candidate is experienced in the fields that they have indicated in their resume.

Tip #6: Work with Recruiters
Recruiters can be a big help for your organization. They work with a large number of prospective employees that come from many different fields and areas of expertise. Recruiters have connections that you might not have, and may attract candidates that would otherwise not be interested in your company. Recruiters might also have a greater knowledge of the technical field than you, and can weed out the poor candidates from the ones who have skills that can be put to use the moment your new team member walks through the door.

Tip #7: Evaluate the Candidate Against Your Culture
Last, but certainly not least, make sure that the employee fits in with your culture. More than likely, you will find technical workers that will be able to accomplish what you need done. However, if they would not fit in with your culture, the entire operation could fall apart. Dig deep and ask your candidates questions that have to do with their work ethic, their ability to work individually and as a member of a team, how they handle conflict, and things of that nature. This is just as important for technical employees as it is for an employee in any other field. IT only works because of collaboration across the board from your team. Otherwise, it simply can’t function.
These tips should help you make the right decision when that inevitable hiring date approaches. Making the wrong decisions can be costly, but they can be avoided if you minimize your risk. The technical world is not as scary as you may think, as long as you remember what to look for and are actively seeking employees with a proven record of success. Get out there and explore new opportunities for your business!

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