IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Keen to Screen: Best Practices for Recruiting Techs

A solid screening process reveals whether or not your technician candidates are good fits for your company. By Carolyn Heinze

MANY IT BUSINESS OWNERS have discovered the hard way that recruiting the wrong tech costs time and money, and may even result in lost business. A solid screening process reveals whether or not your technician candidates are good fits for your company before they’re in your employ.

The Resume. When examining resumes, James Bier, principal and chief channel development officer at VAR Staffing, a technology recruiting services firm, in Richardson, Texas, looks for tenure. If the candidate job hops without acquiring any new skills, it’s a red flag. “We like to see a candidate [who] can demonstrate two to three years at one firm, and hopefully that candidate has had a career progression at that firm,” he says.

Bier also seeks candidates who have prior experience working at MSPs. “When an MSP is supporting SMB clients, that pace is much different than if they are working for a banking system, or a healthcare or university system,” he says.

The Phone Interview. Phone screening is how Will Foret, president of Spot Migration, an IT services firm based in Lincolnwood, Ill., covers considerable ground. When hiring techs, he asks technical questions: What is a VMDK? How do you convert physical servers to virtual machines? What devices are required to create VLANs that can talk to each other?

Foret also wants to know why the candidate is seeking a new opportunity. “We have [many] technologies that someone can learn and use, and it’s something that is very rare in terms of opportunity,” he says. “We’re usually looking for someone [who] wants to learn, [who] wants to have new challenges constantly, [and who] wants to be able to explore new technologies.”

The Interview. During the face-to-face interview, Foret gives candidates a troubleshooting scenario to solve. He also asks questions about goals and work styles: What parts of their current job excite them? What bores them? What are their career aspirations beyond the position they’re interviewing for? What’s the toughest goal they’ve ever set for themselves? How do they plan to top it? What’s the most important thing they’re looking for at their next company? For Foret, these questions help him determine how the candidate thinks, how they perceive the world, and whether or not they would make a good cultural fit.

The Extra Step. Near the end of the screening process, Bier suggests arranging a social engagement with the candidate, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a post-work drink. This allows you to screen for culture and see how the candidate interacts with other members of your team.

“Screening for culture is important,” he says. “If somebody can’t click, that’s obviously going to be an indicator that [they may not mesh] with the team, and that’s key.”

About the Author

CAROLYN HEINZE is a regular freelance contributor to ChannelPro-SMB.

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