How to Test an IT Candidate’s Skill Level Prior to Hiring

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You’ve written (and rewritten) the job ad, promoted it like crazy, and screened dozens of candidates. You’ve seen more resumes than you can keep track of, and you think you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of interview-worthy candidates.
 
Up to this point, you’ve seen your candidates talk the talk, but you haven’t really seen them walk the walk. That is, you haven’t seen them in action. And when you’re talking about IT positions, especially, seeing them in action could make your decision to hire (or not to hire) a lot easier.
 
So take your candidate’s skills for a test drive before proceeding with the hiring process. How? We’re glad you asked. Here’s tow to test an IT candidate’s skill level prior to hiring.
 

Be Crystal Clear in your Job Description.

 
While it may not be part of an actual skills test, this really is an important part of the process, and it should be done well before you test any candidates. The point of this step is to weed out any unqualified candidates from the beginning. You don’t want to bring a candidate in for an interview or skills test, only to have him or her surprised by the tasks they’re asked to perform. Make sure that the job description in your ad clearly outlines the knowledge your candidates should have, including software they should be familiar with, tasks they should be comfortable with, programming languages they should know, etc. The more specific you are early on, the less wasted time you’ll have down the road.
 

Present Real-life Problems to Solve.

 
Ask your current IT team about a recent problem or two they’ve faced, and how they solved them. Present those problems to your candidate during the interview, and see what sort of solutions they come up with. If possible, have an IT expert (either from your team or brought from the outside) there to verify that the solutions are viable and smart. You want your employees to be able to solve the real problems your company faces—not some hypothetical situations “some company” might face at “some point.”
 

Use a Third-party Program.

 
For certain IT positions, you may be able to find a third-party program that is built specifically to test certain skills. If you do a broad Internet search, you’ll find a large number of these programs available, but you may not be sure which ones to trust or how to tell if they’re reputable. Ask someone who has been through this process before, or enlist the expertise of a staffing company (one that specializes in IT would be nice) to help you make the right call.
 

Double Check Via References

 
You should have at least one reference that is very familiar with the candidate’s day-to-day activities at a current or previous job. The skills that those activities require should ideally line up with the skills they’ll need in your company’s position. As long as the candidate was competent and proficient in that job, they should have no problem bringing those skills to their new workplace.
 
Hiring is stressful, and if it’s done wrong, it can cost you time and money. Take the time to test an IT candidates skills before making a hire, and you’ll avoid potentially costly mistakes.
 
Eliminate even more of the stress by bringing in a professional staffing company to help you in all stages of staffing, including skills testing. EDI Staffing has years of experience staffing IT employees, and can help you find a well-qualified candidate for any of your open IT positions.
 

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