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Soft Skills and IT: How to Hire Tech Workers With the Right Stuff
IT departments need a specific set of hard skills: the technical training and experience that helps them do their jobs. But often what sets apart the so-so workers (the ones who just scrape by) from the ones that become a driving factor for success within the organization is not their ability to program in the latest languages or manage to keep the database running, but the ones with a certain set of soft skills.
What soft skills should your tech workers have?
Find Workers With the Ability to Express Complex Information Concisely
Nowhere in the organization is communication more important than in IT. Technology (especially the latest advancements, like cloud computing and mobile technologies) is complex. Not many workers outside of IT understands it at all. Great tech workers have all the tech savvy, plus the ability to communicate these principles to non-tech workers in a way they can understand. Find one who can do this without patronizing the non-techie, and you’ve found yourself a winner indeed.
Look for Workers With Creative Problem-Solving Abilities
Many issues that arise in the IT department have tried-and-true solutions. Others do not. A tech worker who can think about problems in a creative way and develop innovative solutions for the most confounding issues will get your team out of a pinch in record time.
Hire Workers Who are Natural Coaches
You often hear, “Find a worker who is a team player.” While this is great, even better is the ability to act as a cheerleader and mentor around the department. Look for workers who can take others under their wings and help them develop their potential. When you find this worker, the performance of the entire department improves.
Seek Workers With Good Business Sense
Too often, the tech department acts as one thing, while the business side pretends to be something else. As business technology develops, it is crucial that IT has a strong grasp on what the business does, what their goals are, and what tech tools are available to help meet those goals.
Value Workers With Networking Capabilities
No, not the ability to install and maintain a connectivity network—the ability to network outside the organization. As skilled and qualified as your staff may be, there will always be problems that you can’t solve internally. Say you’re trying to crank up a big data initiative or move critical operations to the cloud. Find a worker with networking resources to help your business make the right decisions.
How to Determine if Candidates Have the Soft Skills You Need
While it’s easy to determine if workers have coding skills or database management skills, it’s harder to tell if they have the soft skills you’re looking for. One method is called “behavioral interviewing,” and it focuses on asking the candidate how she or he has behaved in particular situations in the past or how they would behave in such a situation in the future.
For example, you can ask, “What is the most difficult situation you’ve found yourself while working in IT?” Then follow this up with, “How did you approach the situation?” Or, ask how the candidate solved particular problems, handled certain scenarios, or would act in a difficult situation.
Look for answers that indicate the candidate has the soft skills you need in your tech department.