What’s Your Interview Style as an IT Manager?

Tagged:IT Manager
What’s Your Interview Style as an IT Manager?

Everyone has their own personal interview style. Recognising your technique can make for a more effective interview and help you recruit better employees. But there’s more than one nut cracking style to crack a candidate’s nuts with.

Being responsible for the hiring of your IT staff, whether you are part of a tech company, an IT department or the head of human resources, is an important role. Get the interview spot on and you can unearth a fantastic new hire.

Get it wrong though, and that new employee might be an ex-employee sooner than you (or us) would like.

So avoid having to repeat the whole recruitment process, and make sure your interview style is in tune with the position you are hiring for.

Your Interview Process Might Not Be working

A recent LinkedIn survey looked at the interview process and it uncovered a number of reasons why and where the traditional interview model fails.


What happens when an interview isn’t effective usually results in candidates’ skills not being tested, or not identifying when a candidate has a serious flaw or weakness, or just losing great-looking candidates along the way due to the amount of time taken in the whole interview process.

The Hiring Manager Has The Most Important Role

The IT recruiter will do their best to source, vet and prepare the candidate as thoroughly as possible before the interview process. This means we talk them through the type of work required, the hours, the flexibility (or lack of flexibility) of the role, and we discuss their commute.

But once the candidate is in the interview, it’s down to the hiring manager to prepare and assess whether they really are the most suitably skilled and experienced candidates before making their final decision.

The approach you take in the interview is vital to the process of getting an enthusiastic, committed new hire.

Choose From A Variety Of Interview Styles:

There are as many different interview styles as there are interviewers, but many tend to follow the same mould. Here are four recogniseable techniques every IT manager should know before booking their shortlisted candidates for interview:

The traditional face-to-face

Even the face-to-face interview model has changed. The formal office interview can now be held in neutral surroundings, like a cafe or hired meeting room and even over Skype. It can be a one-to-one or conducted with other managers involved in the process including line manager, hiring manager, HR manager and managing director. 

However you conduct it, it is the fundamental step in confirming whether someone will be a great new hire or not. And every style can be adapted to suit the needs of the employer:

Situational/Scenario based test

Quite simply this is creating a fictional issue (or a common one in your organisation) presented as a scenario for the candidate to demonstrate their skills or ability to analyse and deal with a particular situation.

A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a long-term project you managed. How did you manage your time to meet your deadlines?

Technical testing

Before even the scenario test/face-to-face there might be a clarification of skills: technical testing. It must be specific to your organisation/department needs. For instance when recruiting for IT posts the specific programming and software language skills need to be demonstrated.

(We have experienced multiple cases where experience and CV indicated excellent prowess of coding in, say C++, yet in actual testing, that knowledge was found wanting.)

Technical testing should identify knowledge, thought process and execution of appropriate code. It reveals how candidates will approach problems and develop solutions.

Competency scenarios

Competency-based interview questions will follow on from the more specific situational based testing. The interviewer will present a list of questions often starting with, ‘give me an example of a how/when…’.

These are designed to identify the skills, knowledge and behaviour a candidate can bring to the role. Ideally, they will uncover some real-life scenarios which demonstrate how they utilised their competencies to the best effect.

10 More Interview Styles And Strategies

Find more ways to wean out the best of the best from the candidate pool (before anyone else does):

Telephone Interview: Usually held before face-to-face interviews and a powerful, yet less time-consuming way of whittling down candidate numbers.


One-to-one Interview: When there is just one interviewer, it can often seem easier, but this will either be the IT manager/director or a department head. They are the most important person to impress. Get it wrong and there are no second chances here.

Panel Interview: When there are more than one interviewer in front of the candidate it becomes a panel interview. They may allow a lead interviewer to direct the process or take turns to ask questions when relevant. They can be both structured and unstructured in delivery. The benefit of this is that it manages to include the entire leadership team, meaning hiring choices are unilaterally agreed.

Behavioural Interview: Assessing a candidate’s potential behaviour based on their past behaviour. How they work under pressure, what their leadership skills might look like.

Competency Interview: Similar to technical testing, this is where a candidate might be asked to demonstrate certain skills or competencies that are key to the role.

Structured Interview: When the same set of questions are asked of each candidate in the hiring process, this is usually planned to give candidates an opportunity to score and an interviewer to assess the relative merits of each.

Unstructured Interview: Some interviewers prefer to go with the flow with candidates. Sometimes they can seem candidate-led but an effective interviewer can ensure that the candidate gives themselves enough opportunity to either convince or hang themselves out to dry.

Staged (Multiple) Interview: Sometimes a hiring organisation will conduct a series of interviews, spaced days or weeks apart. Sometimes they are used to highlight the very best candidates, and they can incorporate other types of interview, i.e., technical test, stress test, situational tests. Sometimes this interview will lead to a second one, perhaps with a director present.

Stress Interview: This one used to be very popular with MI5-type jobs, as it revealed how candidates might be able to handle real-life stressful situations. Some recruitment companies still do this when recruiting new staff, like can they actually make a phone call to a candidate?

The Lunch Interview: Our favourite kind of interview, when a hiring manager decides to take the candidate to lunch. Sometimes this is actually more formal than you might think. Often they are a second or third interview, but a candidate should know they are getting close at this stage and be on their best behavior.

“Welcome aboard Amal”

Hiring practices have changed over the years and we’ve seen them all. No two interviews are ever alike.

How a hiring manager interviews candidates depends on a combination of the individual and the culture of the organisation. Big tech firms often have very ritualised recruitment processes, while some startups might appear a lot less formal.

The interview style is the final piece of a hiring puzzle. Ask the right questions and it can be the difference between hiring someone who can become a real addition to the company or one who might not even be there in three months time.

We have expert IT recruitment consultants that are here to ask the most difficult questions of candidates. We help source and vet only the very best prospects when you are hiring. You can call us on 0161 913 26210 and let us help you find the best candidates.

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