I’m still thinking about the IT auditor interviews I did recently. Not only did I get frustrated with the interviewees, I struggled with my co-interviewers. I not only thought some of their questions were poor, but they branded me a “tough interviewer.”
Here’s some of their questions, followed by my comments:
Can you work in a stressful environment? How many people will say, “No, I can’t”? That’s why most Yes/No questions are useless. It’s like asking, “Would you rather live in on the streets over a heat vent or in a small studio apartment with a built-in dishwasher?”
Do you have experience doing IT audits? If you have to ask this question, why are you interviewing this person? On the other hand, if a resume doesn’t list UNIX, asking whether the person has any UNIX experience makes more sense–she may have some experience, but don’t feel she has enough experience to list it as a skill. Once you know she has exposure to UNIX, you can probe deeper.
You have a lot of team leadership experience. Will you be able to give up the lead role and do grunt work? Again, people who want to get back to work will seldom say, “No, I always lead and never follow.” The intent of the question is good, it just doesn’t address the real issue (more on that later).
Rather than ask Yes/No questions, I like to ask for examples that provide specific details and really probe for what I want to know. Here’s how I would ask those same questions and why:
What types of stressful environments have you worked in, what made them stressful, and how did you deal with those issues? Not only does this question tend to expose chronic complainers who had “an awful manager,” it can help you determine how the person copes with stress, and whether those methods will work at your company.
What types of IT audits have you performed, and can you briefly describe how you performed a few of the tests? The answer can help you understand not only the person’s breadth of experience, how well he prioritizes and summarizes his experience, but most importantly, can he show how his experience relates to the current position? All while being brief. A tough question indeed, but a very insightful one.
You have a lot of team leadership experience. What strategies will you use to support the team leader and fulfill only the role you are asked to play? Again, the key is to ask for specifics. If a person can’t explain how she can follow, she probably hasn’t thought about the issue and may not be prepared to follow. The question also hints that once she has proved herself, she may be asked to play a more important role.
When I asked my co-workers why they thought I was a tough interviewer, they said I asked questions that were too specific and requested too many examples–since it was “obvious from the resumes that the interviewees have the appropriate skills” they said (yeah, just like the guy who really didn’t have any server virtualization experience*).
* See my previous post, Interviewing IT Auditors.
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