IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Ask the Wrong Questions and You Hire the Wrong Person!

Interview questions are the foundation of determining who gets hired. Ask the wrong questions; hire the wrong person. Everyone acknowledges how difficult it can be sometimes to correctly identify good talent.  One reason behind that challenge is many companies utilize only one type of interview question.

There are 3 “must have” types of questions to ask during the interview process to improve the odds of hiring the right person.  They are:   Experiential, Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking questions.

Category 1: Experiential Questions.

Historically, VARs and MSPs are pretty good at asking experiential questions.  These are typically straight forward and intended to gain a better understanding of someone’s experience and current level of technical skills.  That information is then used to judge whether someone has sufficient experience and skills to reasonably perform the role they are being interviewed for.

Where many VARs / MSPs struggle is having additional questions to help determine future growth potential based on problem solving and critical thinking question skills.

Category 2: Problem Solving Questions

Problem solving questions and critical thinking questions are closely related and can sometimes be confused.  For this discussion, problem solving questions are typically related to the job duties someone is being interviewed (but not always) and are also reasonably straight forward in approach.  The real purpose is to probe how someone analyzes and then attempts to solve a problem.  Depending on the complexity of the question, typically managers are as interested in the approach someone takes to solving a problem even if the correct answer is not achieved, although that is clearly the preferred outcome. Many companies like to ask multiple problem-solving questions; starting out with more fundamental problems and progressing to increasingly difficult ones.

Category 3: Critical Thinking (also known as Socratic) Questions

These questions are usually more abstract and not necessarily related to the day to day job duties. They are meant to help expose self-directed and self-corrective thinking capabilities.  Typically, critical thinking questions require someone to look for existing evidence, determine appropriate questions to ask in pursuit of an answer, and differentiate between intuition and evidence.

Critical thinking questions can be posed in several methods.   Sometimes critical thinking questions can be asked by describing a certain situation or problem that has a known answer, and then asking how you could improve upon the existing answer.

Another approach involves stating a problem in an unfamiliar area or one that has complex solutions and looking for imaginative ways in the approach to solving the problem.

An important caveat: While critical thinking questions can be asked for everything from a Level 1 Service Desk role to a Cyber Security Practice Manager, it is important to keep the context of the position in mind. Some positions are more tactical in nature, and therefore more appropriately aligned with experiential and problem-solving questions.

VAR Staffing welcomes the opportunity to work with you to identify the right person for the right job.  Call us at 972-996-0966 or email Ashley at [email protected].   We wish you the best of continued success growing your practice.


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VAR Staffing is passionate about our unique ability to proactively identify and recruit the best talent in the IT Channel community.

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