How To Interview Someone For A Job You Can’t Do Yourself

Interviewing someone for a job you can’t do yourself can be a nerve-wracking experience—you have to intelligently evaluate a qualified candidate, yet you have little to no understanding of what qualifies as “qualified.” Make a mistake and your organization will lose time, energy, and money on finding a new candidate—not to mention the office-wide stress associated with a vacant position.

interview job cant do

But you’ve been tasked with this interview, so what do you do now? Here are some tips to help you out.

Get In The Know

The more knowledge an interviewer has about a job, the better the interview. It’s a simple truism you’ll have to overcome.

To do so, you’ll need to research the position. Go online to learn what tasks are typically associated with the role. Read job descriptions for similar positions to grasp what the required and preferred qualifications are. If the position is highly technical, you may also need to brush up on terms and concepts specific to the field.

Take time to talk with the position’s direct supervisor and coworkers in the department. Find out what they’re looking for in a colleague and what skills they believe are required for the candidate to succeed. Ask for examples of how to gauge those skills—especially the technical ones.

If possible, see if the department head or a department rep can sit in on the interview. They may not feel comfortable interviewing the candidate directly, but their expertise will help during after-interview deliberations. If everyone’s busy, you should still discuss the matter with them with your notes and other gathered materials at hand.

Testing, Testing…

You’ve spoken with the department’s people and know they’re looking for a programmer who can write clean JavaScript for web development. But what qualifies as “clean” code? Would you know the difference between JavaScript and SQL, Perl, or Python if you saw it?

If you find yourself in a predicament, you can either request work samples or initiate a skills test—an especially helpful step when assessing applicants for technical positions.

Work samples are nice because they don’t burn time. You simply take the applicant’s work, hand it to your resident expert, and ask her to analyze it. Easy breezy.

The downside is samples only show you a final product, not the effectiveness of the work that went into it. The JavaScript may be clean and functional, but you won’t know how much of it is original, the difficulties that went into its production, and so on.

A test allows you to examine an applicant’s capabilities in a clean environment and within a certain time. The downside? It takes additional effort for you and someone with the required technical skills to develop the test.

Discuss both tactics with members of your team and decide which one best suits your circumstances.

Trust In Yourself

You’ve probably been selected because you have a solid record of choosing successful candidates. Although the current task is daunting, remember to trust the skills you’ve developed over your career.

Pull out your repertoire of interview questions, and look for the ones that seem to signal success in a candidate, regardless of the position being considered. Ask yourself why these questions work across the board, and focus on those during the interview.

Don’t forget to look for soft skills and a fit within your company culture. This is especially true with technical positions. You may be stupefied by all the details that go into clean JavaScript, but the cleanest code in the world won’t make for a unified workforce if the candidate doesn’t play well with others.

In the end, interviewing someone for a job you can’t do yourself can be difficult, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome. Finding the time to research the position and its tasks will help you make the best decision; however, remember interviews are about more than demonstrating technical capacity. They are also about finding the person that will succeed in your community. Regardless of the position, your strength during this interview will be your ability to locate that specific candidate.

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