IT Training Tips

Interviewing to catch incompetents

At one of the places I worked at, I was told about the person I had replaced. This person had purported to be an expert in Citrix, but was really not an expert. In fact, the longer they worked there, the more it became apparent to everyone, this person was not the 'sharpest tool in toolbox' when it came to IT. Their technical knowledge was very poor.

When this persons contract came up for renewal, it was not renewed, as the management had worked out this person was not very good at the job they were supposed to do and possibly technically inept? Resulting in me being hired to replace them and sort out the mess they had left behind.

Slipped through the net

So how had this person managed to slip through the net and successfully get past the CV (resume) and interview stages for the role they were doing?

I was told their CV (resume) looked good, quite impressive and this had put them in a good light. That is, based on the CV (resume) alone, it was was felt, here was a person who was a strong candidate.

This could have probably meant, the interview conducted was not done satisfactorily, that is, the interviewers may have assumed the skills and abilities mentioned on this person's CV (resume) were correct and therefore only asked non technical questions.

If they had checked to see if what was said on the CV (resume) was true, I do not think this person would have got the role.

By believing the CV was a true reflection of this person's skills, would have made it easier for this person to worm their way through the interview stage, which is what it looks like they may have done.

Technical inadequacies

I heard many stories about how this person's technical knowledge was woeful. Just to put it into perspective, how bad it was, if they had been a car mechanic, they would not even know how to service a car.

I was told their basic networking knowledge was non-existent, which for someone who supposedly had years of experience was shocking.

All they said this person knew was a few tit bits of technical information such as the Citrix protocol using port 1494. That was really all this person had to base their so called 'Guru' like knowledge about Citrix products on.

There was also a suspicion this person had an arsenal of documentation which they may have allegedly taken from other organisations they had worked for. Allegedly changing the author names on the front, to make it look like they had created the documents themselves.

This if it was true, was nothing more than theft of another organisations documents. Just because this person may have had these documents, it did not mean they knew how to use them or understand them.

Caught out

Colleagues started making up fictitious technical products in meetings with this person. Which this person would always say they knew about, such as when someone had said,

"Did you ever use Citrix Technotion, it was quite a cool product, shame it only stayed in beta and never became mainstream?"

They supposedly agreed with them on this being a cool product even though Citrix has never made a product called Technotion.

I also heard, how this person's colleagues in the team cottoned on to this person's incompetency and deliberately in meetings, made up technical terms.

This incompetent person repeated these made up technical words, several times in the meeting, as to sort of prove they knew what they meant.

A colleague would say, "We checked the ports using a tenkent command and it seemed fine."

This person would then repeat this made up technical term in the run of the conversation, as if they knew all about it.

"Yes, checking the ports using the tenkent command is always a wise thing to do!", they would say.

My new colleagues said it was bordering on being cringe-worthy, watching such an incompetent person using technical words which were not real and made up without knowing. Even when they used real technical words, they still had no understanding of.

Right Technical questions

So how do we weed out the incompetents in an interview? Well, in an interview it should never be assumed the person being interviewed is who they say they are.

This does not mean, they are an imposter masquerading with a false identity instead they are not viewed as the expert they profess to be, until they can prove it.

The questions asked should range from the basic questions, to deep questions, to scenario type questions. So if I was interviewing for a car mechanics job, I would ask simple questions like,

"What three components need to be changed for a full service?"

When it came to a question to determine a deeper understanding, I would ask something like,

"In a BMW 520d, what is the recommended settings for xxx component?"

The scenario question would be based on,

"A car is brought in to the garage because it is overheating, what would you do to determine the root cause of the problem?"

These types of questions would show the true levels of expertise, that is, simple to deep to scenario questioning.

Likewise a similar pattern of interviewing needs to be adopted to catch out those who are not as skilled or experienced as their CV (resume) professes they are I'm IT.

By asking them basic IT questions around networking and key concepts a quick understanding of the persons aptitude can be developed.

Then by building onto ask about IT skills necessary for a role, so if it was a Citrix job then questions about Citrix products. Followed by scenario questions to determine if the person has the knowledge and thinking gained from actually having used the technology.

By adopting this approach organisations can save a fortune from the mistakes the in components can cause.