It’s tough to find the perfect IT person. It’s a sad fact that I’ve run into time and time again. Of course, I’m running into it again now with my latest resource search. So what makes the perfect IT person?
eWeek took some time to design the perfect IT person with the help of some CIOs. They’re not far off from what I’ve always believed. The perfect IT person doesn’t need to have the best technical skills, merely a base knowledge set, passion and attitude. What they need is a strong (and preferably broad) set of non-technical skills including general social skills, communications, and an understanding of how business works. By communications, I do mean listening (and listening more, and hearing and listening) and communicating with non-technical people, of course.
Good communications and social skills is important for any IT person who plans to see the light of day. There will always be the IT cave dwellers – very highly skilled programmers or network gurus who are happiest if their contact with people doesn’t involve more than “12 Redbull, that will be $15”. There’s definitely a place for those people.
That place isn’t anywhere near other people though. Most IT people, especially support and consultant types need to be able to communicate clearly to their non-technical clients and exude just the right amount of confidence to minimize any fears that client may have (without being too cocky). Thus, when I’m interviewing, I ask myself the following questions:
- Does the candidate communicate clearly in non-technical terms (even though I’m very technical)?
- Does the candidate answer questions with confidence? How do they react to questions they don’t know the answer to?
- Does the candidate have an aptitude and passion for technology?
- Is the candidate willing to learn and adapt or are they stuck in their own ways?
Of course, I have a ton of other questions, but surprizingly few of them are tech-trivia based. Once I’ve gotten a feel for the base technical knowledge level, I ask more situational and best practice questions.
My focus really is making sure the person has the social and communications skills and technology aptitude first. Assuming a base level of knowledge, the rest can be taught. Sometimes it’s actually better that way – so you can ensure that the right practices are put in place early.
I guess the REAL question iends up being: What % of the perfect IT person is dependant on their IT skills?