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How to Assess a Tech Candidate's Competency

Nov 16 , 2018


Competency is supremely important in tech candidates; if they can't actually do what they say they can, they aren't of much value to any company. Unfortunately, it can be fairly easy to fake competency in an interview situation, so how can companies adequately assess tech candidates' competency?

Effective Interview Questions

Going beyond the typical interview questions can yield important information that can get past positive self-reporting and reveal the skills and values candidates actually have. Here are some of the best interview questions to ask.

How do you keep your tech skills current?

The tech field is changing constantly, and tech employees need to be engaging in some kind of continuing education to keep up. If the candidate can't give a good answer to this question—(former) employer training, certification courses, and self-education through online resources are all good answers—you need to think seriously about whether they would be an asset to the company you're recruiting for.

What online resources do you use?

Speaking of online resources, they can be used both for current help in a job and as a source of continuing education to help with the problems of tomorrow. Candidates should be able to name several online sources in answer to this question; if they can't, their skills may not be as up-to-date as they are trying to make it sound. 

Explain a high-tech concept in common language?

If the job description involves dealing with end users and other non-tech savvy individuals, a tech worker will need to be able to break down concepts and explain them without using jargon or tech language that no one outside the field understand. Your candidate may have the best skills in the world, but If they can't lay off the "tech speak long enough to explain things in layman's terms, they may not be a fit for your job opening.


Assessments and Certifications

Unlike interview questions that candidates can sometimes spin to make themselves look better than they are, assessments and certifications both demonstrate skills that can be objectively evaluated. Assessments are tests that you give to candidates directly to determine their skills, and should focus on real-world situations and problems that would be part of the job they are interviewing for. 

Candidates may have also earned certifications in various skill areas of the tech field. Certifications mean that the candidate has studied for and passed a rigorous exam demonstrating skills in that particular area. Certification exams are not easy to pass and usually take dedicated coursework or many hours of individual study. Certifications, if they are fairly recent, generally show expertise in that area and an ability to learn new skills quickly. 

With the right interview questions as well as looking at assessments and certifications, it is possible to get a good read on whether candidates have usable skills they can put into practice if they fill your job opening. You won't have to rely on "I think I can," but you will be able to see that they have already done so and are capable of doing it again. 

GDH offers recruiting services in the tech field and other areas to help companies find the best employees for their open positions. Contact us for information about all the recruiting services we offer.