Assessing Experience: How-to Understand the Depth of a Candidate’s IT Skills

Far too often, resumes function as surface-level documents that paint an overview of the candidate. Basic stats and info, equating to little more than words on paper and hardly a full character assessment. This issue is something that recruiters have struggled with and debated for years – in particular since the advent of the ATS and the rapid rise of talent acquisition technologies. How do we fully recognize the breadth of a candidate’s experience from keywords plugged in against a job description? The short of it is, we don’t. However, without getting too into sourcing specifics, the long of it is that understanding the depth of a candidate’s skills, particularly when it comes to screening IT and tech talent, requires discussion. And of course, not just any discussion, but rather a structured interview designed to evaluate the practical application of skills, relevant hands-on work and education all at the same time.

Emphasis on interviewing

After identifying and engaging an IT candidate, recruiters and hiring managers need a way to determine if the candidate aligns with the position’s requirements – something the standard interview doesn’t always do well. Further complicating the issue is that screening and selecting highly qualified, talented candidates won’t happen overnight. Before presenting the best of the best to the hiring manager, recruiters get tasked with assessing each candidate’s experience, even if they don’t fully comprehend the technical skills in question. Not the most straightforward to resolve and yet, the interview is invaluable in the process of hiring IT workers.

This begs us to ask, can we improve the interview in a way that works for both recruiters, hiring managers and IT candidates? Of course, and it starts with reconfiguring who does the interviewing and how they present the more technical material. To complement the work of an organization’s recruiters, it helps to add the support of well-versed IT professionals with the same, or similar skillsets, trained to interview.

Experience requires conversations

Think about it. When it comes to hiring, there is just no way to engage candidates without an in-depth discussion – why not include someone familiar with both the work product required of the role and the interview method? Be it a video interview or a formal, in-person panel, an experienced someone should do the screening in a structured, measurable manner. Given that hiring needs vary, there will be organizations that care about the candidate’s work, while others may put more value on where they did their learning. In both cases, the process benefits from the informed perspective of someone who understands the technical prowess needed to do the job and do it well.  

This collaborative approach takes pressure off of the recruiters, gives candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and saves time for everyone involved. That combined with an established interviewing methodology to keep the conversation legally compliant while evaluating the candidate’s technical skills.

Capacity to perform

Going beyond the interview and interviewer, included within this set methodology is the all-important assessment. However, unlike the standalone solutions that may come to mind, this assessment works as part of the aforementioned conversation with the candidate. With the aid of a common scoring rubric, candidate skills take center stage, helping to showcase individual talents, predict job potential job performance and eliminate bias from the process.

Creating a comfortable environment for the candidates enables them to perform at a higher level, bringing that otherwise flat resume to life and highlighting their actual abilities. Those with the right skills and experience have the chance to shine, and rise to the top of the shortlist, while those blustering on paper transition out of the process earlier on. The result is a small pool of candidates who both walk the walk and talk the talk, well before they ever interact with a hiring manager.

Clearing a direct path

There are countless ways to interact with candidates – and yet, screening and evaluating IT skills continues to elude many recruiters (even some with technical right there in their title). This is not to say that the recruiter doesn’t continue to play a significant and vital role in hiring tech candidates. Instead, this interview-based approach empowers their decision making, creates an opportunity to spotlight the organization’s employer brand and enhance the candidate experience. All the while, revealing a deeper understanding of tech skills in a way that benefits all parties involved. Easing managerial concerns about qualifications, improving time to hire, reducing the number of resources and boosting the return on investment, to name a few.

Experience speaks volumes, rather than remaining relegated to the resume, and by focusing on the interview and adding in tech expertise, recruiters clear a direct path for hiring managers.

A hardcore hacker leads eTeki’s XprTeki Network for technical interviews.

Surendra Pepakayala on Linkedin
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Chief Architect at Amzur Technologies, Inc.  A hardcore hacker leads our XprTeki Network for technical interviews. He was the head architect at Selectica when their eInsurance Tech Suite was acquired by Accenture.




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Chief Architect at Amzur Technologies, Inc.  A hardcore hacker leads our XprTeki Network for technical interviews. He was the head architect at Selectica when their eInsurance Tech Suite was acquired by Accenture.

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