Interviewing Technical People With a Twist

You meet all kinds of people in IT recruitment – they can’t be pigeonholed.

Does that mean you have to prepare multiple approaches to always run a successful interview process?

No siree. There is one plan that is effective for all.

As someone with 17 years of “sharp end” commercial IT recruitment experience, allow me to share what works for me.

The Best Approach to IT Recruitment

So you’ve established the candidate has the right technical skills via relevant tests that have been:

  1. Produced in house by you and specific to the job


  1. Facilitated via the web using the plethora of online technical testing resources available

But can you work with this person?

You meet all kinds of people in IT recruitment. They are all unique and at this stage, enigmatic.

So each interview will be different.

Here is a short, light-hearted guide that will help you answer the aforementioned question

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Interview Tips

Step One: Getting Into The Right Mindset

CVs will only tell you so much, namely: what the candidate wants you to know. Set aside some time to do some digging for deeper insights prior to an interview:

  • Browse their LinkedIn profile
  • Visit their personal website
  • Check out a couple of companies they have worked for (glean what you can about the culture, size, ethos and the like)
  • Investigate clubs / groups / teams they belong to (who knew bothying was a thing?).

Try to get a “feel” for the person and what makes them tick prior to the interview. So when you meet them you have an understanding of their personality.

You’ll gain buckets of intel that will help you prepare more personal interview questions for next-level insights.

Hobbies are especially useful. Whether it’s collecting German beer mats or playing golf, you can learn a lot about a person from their passions.

For example, if someone is an experienced mountain climber, that’s a sign of their focus, commitment and discipline. If they enjoy bothying, you’ll know they won’t complain about bad plumbing…


Step Two: Seeing If a Candidate is a Good Team and Cultural Fit

Have a good probe. Probing is good.

Probe around their schooldays, free time, attitude to exams, hobbies, interests, heroes, antiheroes, Brexit (hmmm, maybe steer clear of that one?).

A good one is asking what they were like at school (this will normally throw them, depending on their age!):

  • Did they like school?
  • Did they like their teachers?
  • How many detentions a week did they get?
  • Did they attain the lofty heights of Prefect?
  • Did exams bring them out in Hives?

They are simple questions but stimulate the candidate to think on their feet.

If they don’t have an answer, well, that’s awkward. But also very helpful! It shows an inflexibility and inability to improvise – something you might not want in a new IT professional team member.

If they do answer with something like this …

“I was a bit cheeky in school but always got my work done on time.”

… you gain tangible insights into their personality.

As I mentioned earlier, delve into theirs hobbies and interests:

  • What possessed you to want to collect German beer mats?
  • Is bothying dangerous and where’s the toilet?

Use humour (many a true word is spoken in jest!), if you can get the person in a light-hearted frame of mind they will relax, open up and tell you what you need to know.

Their answers will go a long way towards assessing whether they will fit into your team and company.

The main goal here? Find something your candidates enjoy talking about. This will encourage them to open up and talk about themselves freely. Do this and you’ll:

  • Be confident you are hiring the best person
  • Gain useful insights into their personality
  • Build a positive and friendly rapport
  • Establish if they’re the right fit for your business
  • Learn Interview questions and techniques that will provide meaningful insights into your candidates


A Different Approach for Better Results

Opening up the interview with a little improvising and some divergent questions will transform the answers given.

You’ll gain insightful and intriguing replies to help you really get to grips with who your candidates are. That way, you can confidently assess if they’re the right IT professional for the job.

Try it!

If this leaves you with any burning questions or you want to know why Birding does it for me, you can call me on 01491 577009 for a friendly chat (I may probe a bit) or email me at

Otherwise, I leave you with some more IT recruitment interview questions that should stimulate interesting replies and uncover useful information.

  1. If you could know the truth to one question, what question would you ask?
  2. Has anyone ever given you change for a £20 note when you only gave them a tenner. What did you do?
  3. What wise words would you pass to your childhood self?
  4. Is K-pop the next big thing?
  5. If you could see 24 hours into the future, what would you be doing?
  6. What is one of your life’s most defining moments so far?
  7. If you fell over and someone saw you, would you laugh at yourself?

Find out more

We will be delighted to discuss with you how we can support your company’s IT recruitment needs. Please complete our enquiry form or call Barry John Tindall on 01491 577009 for an initial consultation.

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