Five Vital IT Interview Questions To Ask Your Candidates

by Modis on April 3, 2014

When you have a critical IT position available, you want to fill it with the right professional. However, while being flooded with resumes, emails and phone calls, how can you tell which candidate is the right choice?

Many companies struggle to match applicants to available roles, as evidenced by the four million unfilled jobs in the United States, primarily in high-skill areas such as IT and professional services.

When it comes to IT hiring, the interview is the one chance you have to get to know each candidate and identify the right match for your position. To do that, you need to ask effective questions.

Here are five suggested questions you can incorporate in your next interview:

Have your candidates done their research before the interview?

The question you should ask: If you could do anything, what would you want to accomplish in the first 60-90 days on the job?

Five important IT interview questions every HR should ask their candidates, and the answers they should look for.

Why this question matters: Top performers want to get to know your business and add value as quickly as possible, and the best candidates will tell you how they plan to do so. Plus, it gives the candidates a chance to demonstrate that they have done their due diligence before meeting with you.

Answers to look for: The ideal answer will vary according to your company and your situation. However, the presentation is important. You want to look for candidates who can tie your challenges to their specific skills and those who demonstrate creativity, self-confidence and an open mind.

Are they willing to learn new skills?

The question you should ask: Can you tell me about a time that you taught yourself something new?

Why this question matters: It’s nearly impossible to find a candidate with the exact technical skill set you need. But great IT professionals are willing and able to learn independently and enhance their skills as needed. If they’ve done it before, they’ll be able to do it again for you.

Answers to look for: Exceptional candidates will admit their shortcomings and give precise details about the technical challenges they’ve faced and how they trained themselves to overcome such roadblocks. The process of learning new statistical models or programming languages is never easy, but top performers will demonstrate signs of passion, dedication, and perseverance.

What motivates them?

The question you should ask: What do you want from your job?

Why this question matters: Depending on how they answer, this question is a sure-fire way to help spot a candidate with drive and determination.

Answers to look for: The best candidates are hungry for advancement, and they will view their next position as a stepping-stone towards something even bigger. In fact, top IT professionals will have no qualms telling you that they hope to advance to management, director, or VP-level positions during their interview.

Another great answer to look for is “I want a job where I never stop learning,” which demonstrates a willingness and desire to grow.

Did they learn from past mistakes?

The question you should ask: Can you walk me through a time that you failed during an IT project and what you learned from the experience?

Why this question matters: Truly great candidates recognize that they aren’t perfect. Even the best of the best will encounter challenges from time to time.

Answers to look for: Top candidates embrace their mistakes as well as their accomplishments. They bounce back, learn from the experience, apply findings immediately and move on. Even better, they’re not afraid of making mistakes again, and they’ll be willing to tackle every project and task with enthusiasm instead of trepidation.

Get to know the candidate better.

The question you should ask: What inspires you?

Why this question matters: Amazing people care about more than information technology. Much more. These candidates pursue something bigger than their careers. Maybe it’s family and friendships. Maybe it’s the thrill of building, creating, or innovating. Maybe it’s the desire to one day start a company and become an entrepreneur. This question matters because it’s entirely subjective.

Answers to look for: There are no right or wrong answers, though the best ones come from the heart. It doesn’t matter whether candidates are motivated professionally or personally; what matters is they care about something enough to pursue it with passion.

Each candidate represents more than just a list of skill sets and former job titles. They’re potential leaders, innovators and game-changers. They can be the future of your company, if you know what to ask when sitting face-to-face with them.

For more interview tips, or for help connecting with exceptional IT talent, visit Do you have some great IT interview questions to share? Post them in the comments below!

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