Leadership IQ’s 2012 study shows that 46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. Most of the new hire fails in the study were due to attitude and only 11 percent of the new hire fails were because of technical competence. This closely relates to the main challenges faced by technical recruiters, finding candidates with both the ability to pass a technical interview and who have the “passion” that IT employers and hiring managers want to see in interviews.

Can IT Staffing Candidates Pass the Technical Interview?

Technical recruiters have a few particular challenges finding good candidates. It’s difficult to determine whether software engineers truly know how to write elegant code or if they can discuss basic software engineering principles and accurately answer programming language questions. This is especially challenging because technical recruiters must forage their way through the myriad technical skills that IT candidates load into their resumes without regard as which ones they actually are proficient with.

If you’ve ever had an IT candidate you thought was stellar but then didn’t make it past the technical interview, you know how important these issues are for technical recruiters. There are some creative ways technical recruiters can use to get a sense of a candidate’s skills, such as:

  • Technical recruiters can ask for the hiring manager’s help with pre-screening questions that candidate’s must be able to answer knowledgeably.
  • Technical recruiters can use outside services such as Codility and InterviewStreet to do technical pre-screening and verify skills.
  • Technical recruiters should ask probing questions to determine which of the many skills listed on a candidate’s resumes are the ones that the candidate truly knows. Questions like When did you last use Javascript? How long did you use it for on your last project? What was your specific role in regard to Javascript? Were you the primary Javascript developer, or was that someone else?

In Search of Passion

But alas, even the candidates who ace the technical interview aren’t guaranteed a thumbs-up. IT employers and hiring managers are looking for the proverbial one-two punch – candidates who can demonstrate technical skills and who can also demonstrate “passion”.

What exactly is passion, you ask? Well, gone are the days when software developers were considered commodities and relegated to be low-cost offshore drones. In today’s hyper-competitive world, everyone, even software developers are expected to be more than just the sum of their parts. Employers look for candidates that are passionate about both their work and the world around them. They want to see intellectual curiosity and the out-of-the box ways of thinking. They want brilliant, flexible minds, and not just minds that can code.

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Measuring Passion

Do your candidates have passion? How will you know? Are technical recruiters listing “passion” on requisitions and work orders? Technical skills aren’t enough for innovative, progressive companies who want intellectually curious, passionate employees who are actively involved in their work, the companies they work for, their industries, and their personal development.

Technical skills are the first hurdle, but passion is the golden ticket for candidates who want to work for top employers. Clues to the employers who are holding out for candidates with “passion” include strong employer branding and candidate and employee experience strategies and job postings with the words “drive,” “passion,” “engaged,” “creative,” and “culture fit”.

Who has the passion that employers want to see in candidates? Those who love their work, their industry, their employers, and their co-workers, and who demonstrate this passion in related forums, blogs, groups, and professional associations, will be able to discuss the work and their interests with excitement, ideas, engagement, and passion. They’ll show passion in interviews, in resumes, in cover letters, and in most work-related interactions. For sure, technical recruiters in search of top talent must do a great job screening for technical skills, but the keys to the kingdom are only given to those candidates who also demonstrate and embody passion.

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