Finding the right employee to fit an organisation can be difficult. Past experience, people skills, ability to learn and adapt all have to be discerned from a short interview process. The task is made even harder when dealing with specialist positions such as IT Consultants and Contractors. The sensitivity of the materials they are able to access, the level of trust they are afforded and the reliance placed on them by your employees are all good reasons to do your due diligence.
With that in mind, here are some tips from industry professionals for making sure you hire the right person.
Matching the past experience of the consultant to your organisation is critical. This is both in terms of size and industry experience. A consultant who has spent 7 years working with BHP in Western Australia may have great experience, but they are unlikely to be a fit for a boutique retailer of fine foods. Similarly, a consultant who is a whiz at providing services to fledgling companies and start ups is probably unlikely to be able to make the jump to a Big 4 bank or insurer without a stepping stone in between.
Checking the affiliations of consultants, especially if you are engaging them on a per job or per project basis is also critical. Conflicts of interest may arise if they are bound to a specific software vendor or company. It may result in your business not getting the best result as advice may be influenced by commissions as a result of recommending certain external products and services.
While recommendations work well in many industries, in the Technology Consulting environment, the results can often speak for themselves. Many IT Consultants also freelance, so are able to show examples of software they have coded or apps they have developed. It can give a valuable insight that is otherwise missing from a paper resume and interview process. That being said, calling and speaking to a former employer listed as a referee is still a critical feature of selecting the right candidate, and helps build a fuller picture of the applicant.
Also specific to the IT profession is the requirement to continually pass testing to maintain current certifications. Whereas a lawyer may qualify and never have to sit an admission exam again, IT professionals are required to do so because of the rapid pace of change in technology. Check that all certifications and qualifications are current before hiring.
Background checks, while time consuming and sometimes costly are critical to this process. Criminal history, particularly computer and data related offences as well as credit scores are all important data sets to regard when making a final decision. Asking for full and frank disclosure at the outset is important, it gives applicants the opportunity to mention and relevant information up-front.
Communication skills are sometimes the most overlooked feature when hiring an IT professional. If the applicant is the most technically gifted but unable to liaise with those he or she will be working with, it’s unlikely they will contribute to your business in the most positive manner possible. Being able to explain complex concepts to a layperson is a undervalued skill for IT professionals, and one that should be valued.
IT consultants and professionals are critical to any organisation, so take the time and care to hire the right one.