How to Find the Best Person for the Job

Jun 23, 2011

John Reed

When it comes to adding staff, there’s little margin for error. Few CIOs have the time and budget to devote to a second round of recruiting if an initial hire doesn’t work out so it’s essential to select the right person ... now.

Of course, achieving this goal often is easier said than done. To identify the best person for your opening, you need to go beyond the expected “Where do you see yourself in five years?” line of questioning during the job interview. Here are some queries that can help you identify the best person for the job:

What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here? - People who are genuinely interested in working for your firm will take the time to research it. They won’t just repeat facts listed on your website; they’ll also have considered what type of impact they could make at your organization.

What would you hope to gain in this job? - Pay attention to whether applicants focus only on the short-term or whether they also mention long-term goals at your company. This can give you a better idea if you’re dealing with a job hopper or someone who seeks an extended tenure at your organization.

I see that you are skilled with XYZ technology. Please explain exactly how you have used this on the job. - This question can be a great way to verify claims made on the resume. People who profess proficiency with certain technologies should be able to give specific examples of how they’ve used them at work such as what they liked the most/least about a product or technology. This can clarify applicants’ true level of expertise. Do they know the technology well enough to point out its strengths and weaknesses? Are they keeping up with trends?

What would you say is the most interesting IT project you have worked on in your career? - You want to know what candidates find motivating. Do those factors match up to the position you’re filling?

What would have made you stay at your last job? Applicants may have well rehearsed responses to the anticipated “Why did you leave your last job?” question. By asking them to consider what they wish had been better, you may get more candid feedback.

What is your least favorite work environment? - Are candidates describing your own corporate culture? You want to make sure IT professionals not only meet the technical requirements but also would thrive on your team.

What words would colleagues use to describe your personality? - You don’t necessarily want a carbon copy of existing staff, but you do want to make sure people will fit in with the team. For example, someone who is described as no-nonsense may not mesh well with a collaborative, collegial team.

Tell me about a failure or mistake you have made on the job. - Look for a willingness to admit faults and an understanding of the importance of learning from them. This can be critical in IT, where mistakes are sometimes made in the quest to resolve problems.

Describe your most challenging end user and the steps you took to make this person happy? - If you’re interviewing candidates for a customer-service oriented position, you want to get a sense of how people respond to pressure situations; how they deal with difficult individuals.

By asking questions that encourage candid answers, you’re more likely to get a better sense of whether promising applicants should remain in contention for the job. Remember, too, that it’s helpful to have other managers and employees meet with top candidates. Armed with plenty of information and feedback about potential hires, you can be confident you’ll extend an offer to the best person for the job.

John Reed is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at

Tags: IT interview, career, staffing, Hiring, RHT,

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