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Secure the Best IT Talent: Interview Tips for Technology Employers


The employment landscape is currently highly competitive for both candidates and employers - especially in tech. 

Securing the top IT talent is essential for organisations who want to gain (or maintain) their competitive edge. And naturally, the best tech candidates want to work for an organisation that resonates with them. 

So how can you position yourself as a desirable IT employer, increasing the number of keen and engaged applicants for each tech role? There are many ways to ensure you attract the best tech talent, but none are more important than your interview and application processes. 

Here are a handful of practical pointers from our expert IT recruitment team. And surprisingly, creating the best interview process is far more involved than just what happens at the interview itself! 

Before Advertising the Position 

Creating a great candidate experience starts well before you even advertise the position. 

Employer Brand  

Any company looking to attract the best IT candidates should develop a strong employer brand, and openly evidence their internal culture. This can include careers pages on your website, talking about job opportunities on your company social media accounts, and sharing employee career success stories. 

Nowadays, people want to know they are working with an organisation that shares the same values as they do, so take time to share any charity fundraising, green credentials, or your commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Interviewer Training 

Being able to interview people effectively is a skill that all potential interviewers need to learn. Effective interviewers know how to structure an interview with competency-based interview questions. They understand body language and unconscious bias. 

It's crucial that you understand unconscious bias and recognise the effect it can have on decision making. We could simply advise you to examine your own unconscious biases, but they are exactly that: unconscious. It can be unclear what biases you carry with you and when you are acting under their influence. This is where panel interviews come in handy, as a diverse selection of people doing the interviewing helps to minimise any biassed thinking. 

It’s also essential that your interviewers understand what questions are unlawfully discriminatory. There are too many ins and outs to go into here, but Sprintlaw has a great resource about what questions and topics are illegal to discuss at interview. 

Be Flexible 

Add flexibility and/or remote availability into any interview process as this will help you attract a wider pool of potentially more diverse candidates. For example, single parents, neurodivergent individuals, or people with physical disabilities may prefer online interviews. So, consider remote options - at least during your initial interview stages. 

Assessment Methodology 

Hiring managers should also formulate an objective assessment methodology that’s consistent and repeatable. This can involve things like interview scorecards, structured interview processes, and practical assessments. 

Set Expectations Around Time 

When embarking on any new talent search, set a firm timeline for the whole recruitment process. Know how many rounds of interviews you intend to have, as well as what you want to understand about each candidate from each round. 

This timeline needs to establish how many interview/application stages that will be required to fill the role. Our experts recommend 2-3 interview stages because candidates can easily be put off by long, drawn out recruitment processes in this highly competitive and volatile market. Their interest in the role may wane with how much effort they are being expected to put in, or they may simply feel that their time is being wasted. 

Have a set deadline by which you would like to offer the role to your successful candidate. Share this deadline with all candidates, so they know when they can expect a decision. 

Upon Advertising the Position & Pre-Interview 

Before advertising any new role, make a point of checking in with the market. What is the average salary for that sort of role? What expectations do other employers have for that position? Does the level of responsibility you require for the role demand higher or lower remuneration than you were expecting? 

If your offer is too low (or even too high) then you won’t end up attracting the most valuable candidates. Consider your whole employment package, do you offer remote working? Most tech candidates may only expect to be in the office 2-3 days per week, ideally choosing from more than one office location. Great benefits such as flexible working, full remote working, private healthcare and generous holiday allowance can also help secure the best IT talent. 

Understand Your Specific Needs 

Non-techie hiring managers in charge of hiring for a technical role should liaise with their relevant technical teams to understand what exactly will be needed from someone in that role. This understanding should cover both the “harder” technical skills and the softer skills that the position will likely require. 

Once you understand what is needed from a position, it’s time to decide how you’re going to assess candidates for it. Work with any assessment methodologies you already have in place to create an objective way to assess candidates for this specific role. Use this to formulate effective interview questions that will prompt each candidate to share their skills, knowledge, and the information you need from them - without it feeling like an interrogation! 

As part of this process, take care to recognise exactly what competencies each candidate can bring to that role – even ones you may not have considered before. No candidate is ever going to be a carbon copy of your precise requirements, so come up with ways you can gauge what each candidate can bring, their individual strengths, and their unique approach. 

Interviewing People at Their Best 

To interview each person at their best, you also need to do some preparation. Always read each applicant’s CV/application before you interview them. Even if you’re familiar with that individual, it’s good to refresh your memory. 

When the interview is arranged, candidates should be asked if they need any reasonable adjustments in order to interview comfortably. You may also wish to provide examples of what adjustments are available. 

Before each interview, it’s important to make sure all relevant tech is working; especially if that tech facilitates a requested adjustment, or if you’ve asked them to prepare a presentation or document that will need to be displayed/presented at the interview. 

Provide all information about attending the interview available well in advance of the actual appointment. The aim here is to remove as many obstacles as possible by providing easy to follow instructions around public transport, parking, and entrances; or alternatively how to attend virtually. 

During Each Interview 

When welcoming candidates, (physically or virtually), always be welcoming, courteous, and friendly. 

When meeting new people, there’s a natural inclination to engage in small talk. But take care to not let any potentially discriminatory or biassed queries slip out! 

Put the Candidate at Ease 

Start each interview with a friendly intro to your company and its values. After this, you might want to manage everyone’s expectations by explaining what today’s interview will entail and what sorts of questions you will be asking. This will help the interviewee mentally prepare and give them some helpful context with which to frame their responses. 

Interviewers Need Care Too 

Important interviewer skills like active listening are all surprisingly physically demanding - especially if your interviewers are neurodivergent, have a disability, or simply have a smaller “social battery” than most. 

Don’t ambitiously cram too many interviews into one day so that all interviewers can be in the right headspace to assess candidates fairly. Have refreshments available and make the space comfortable. Also ensure you and your fellow interviewers are refreshed and comfortable before each interview.  

Never Discuss Salary Too Early 

Don’t grill candidates about their salary expectations early on. In doing so, you could end up pressuring the interviewee to devalue themselves in order to be seen as a more attractive candidate. Salary is something that should be carefully approached - and only with shortlisted candidates at later stages. 

Avoid Limiting Assessment Methods 

Again, to attract and properly assess diverse candidates, avoid potentially limiting assessment methods like test-taking for example. Tests generally need to be administered in person in order to remain fair - but that requirement may exclude people with disabilities or personal commitments. 

Be Generous With Interview Time 

Assign a little more time than you feel you need for each interview, to allow for questions, clarifications, and explanations. Interviewers won’t be making their best decisions when they’re fretting about their next meeting in 5 minutes, and interviewees won’t be putting their best qualities forward when they’re worried about missing the train or the school run! 

They’re Interviewing You Too! 

The current job market is more candidate-led ,compared to previous years, especially in tech. Any candidate who comes through your doors is rightly assessing you as an employer, just as much as you are assessing them. Don’t forget that you’re on level pegging here! 

Beyond the First Interview 

When you ask candidates back for further application stages, it’s common to ask them to prepare a presentation that showcases their skills in the context of your organisation. When you do so, don’t forget these essential pointers: 

  • If you’re asking applicants to prepare reports or presentations that involve sensitive information, prepare NDAs for all relevant applicants, and ensure the information is only shared after this agreement is signed. 
  • Set tasks that encourage applicants to apply both hard and soft skills in a realistic context.  
  • Never set presentations with the intention of stealing applicants’ ideas. 
  • Give a reasonable amount of time for applicants to complete their presentation. Understand that applicants with care commitments or disabilities may require extra time. 

After Each Interview 

Always seek to provide straightforward, yet polite, feedback to each candidate about the impression they gave at the end of each interview. If something substantial might be harming their chances, this will give them an opportunity to correct the record, or approach things differently for interviews elsewhere. 

Also, never “ghost” unsuccessful candidates. Job hunting is tough, and even breaking the news to them in a brief, templated email is better than complete radio silence. You might also want to kindly and helpfully include the reasons why you didn't think this role was the best fit for them – or why they were unsuccessful so they can consider that feedback for future applications. 

In Conclusion & Next Steps 

All in all, our advice here is to be human, respectful, and understanding. But additionally, working with a specialist tech recruiter can help you source stellar tech talent. 

Crimson works with employers just like you up and down the UK to help them secure the right person for each role. 

Our IT recruitment experts uncover the current market and going rates for each position, run bespoke recruitment campaigns for your vacancy, can facilitate pre-interview candidate shortlisting, and much more. 

Plus, Crimson was recently named as one of “the UK’s leading tech recruiters” by the Financial Times. 

Learn more about our industry-leading recruitment services here, or request a free consultation call with the team today!