How CIOs Can Ace Giving Interviews

Make sure your next interview is something that you’d be willing to listen to again…
Make sure your next interview is something that you’d be willing to listen to again…
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One of the most important jobs that CIOs do which is an even bigger deal these days given the importance of information technology, is to interview candidates who would like to join their IT department. As important as this job is, very few of us have ever been trained on how to properly conduct an interview. Is it possible that you are doing a poor job of interviewing and have been turning away the good candidates and hiring the bad ones?

What Have CIOs Been Doing Wrong During Interviews?

Many of those who have the CIO job that I talk to about their interviewing skills believe that they already do a great job of interviewing. However, when we dig just a little bit deeper, the problems start to show up. The errors that they make can include not taking any notes during the interview, interrupting the interview to take a call, acting bored, or even saying bad things about the company that the candidate is interviewing for.

Poor interviewing skills can lead to multiple problems. The first is the alienation of high quality job candidates. If the best people decide that they don’t want to work for your company because of the way that they were treated during the interview process, then you’ll have a much smaller pool to choose your IT workers from. Additionally, poor interviewing can lead you to end up hiring the wrong candidate. That’s a mistake that you may end up living with for a long time.

What Should CIOs Do During An Interview?

If we can agree that that the hiring process needs to be improved, then the next question that we need to answer is just exactly how are we going to go about doing this? The good news is that the key to your long-term interviewing success is to standardize how you conduct your interviews.

What we all need to realize is that interviewing is a job skill that we can all work at and develop. The one thing that we all need to learn is to not try and just make it up as we go along – this is always going to end up delivering a poor outcome.

If you don’t standardize how you do your interviewing, then what will happen is that your own personal biases will start to creep in. What this means is that we will start to favor interview candidates who look like us. This can be based on things like where the candidate went to school or what their personal interests are.

In order to overcome our natural tendencies to like people who are like us, we need to take steps to formalize the interview process and ensure that we treat every candidate exactly the same. The simplest way to do this is to create and use a standardized set of questions for every candidate. After the interview is over, each candidate needs to be scored and evaluated using the same sets of criteria.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

One of the most important jobs that anybody in the CIO position will perform is the interviewing of candidates who want to join the IT department. Since very few of us have ever had any formal training in how best to do this, all too often we pass over good candidates and end up hiring the wrong ones.

In order to prevent this from happening in the future, CIOs need to first understand that interviewing is a skill that can be developed. In order to overcome our natural tendency to favor candidates who are like us, the interview process needs to be standardized. Using a set of prepared questions and then consistently evaluating each candidate after the interview.

Although learning how to interview properly may seem like yet another task on top of everything else that you have to do, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Standardizing how you conduct your interviews will allow you to both attract and retain the best IT talent. Do that well enough, often enough, and you’ll end up with the best IT department in town!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How many standardized questions do you think should be part of an IT job interview?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The person who has the CIO job (you) has a huge responsibility that is even bigger than the importance of information technology is to your company – you need to make sure that the right people are attracted to your IT department and that you hire the best of the best. The only problem with this responsibility is that far too few of us have ever been trained on just exactly how to go about doing interviews correctly…