Our company is growing and so are our IT needs. Problem is, we're all programmers without any hardcore systems/networking experience and I don't feel we could identify the best candidate based on our minimal understanding of the required expertise. It would likely result in subjective thoughts like "well they seemed to know what they were talking about" or "hmph...no experience with X, must not be very good".

Obviously there are different techniques used for testing specific technologies, but what are the general techniques that have shown to be successful?


  • Online Tests
  • Certifications
  • Third-party interviewers (does this exist?)
  • Field test (on site)
  • 2
    you could just google technical interview questions and answers for _______ (the position). Then you dont need to be an expert in the field. You simply need to see if they answered similarly to the provided answers. Of course, the questions should match the skills they say they are representing.'
    – n00b
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 19:32
  • Who in your company has been doing this kind of work so far? They probably have an idea of what they're doing incorrectly or inefficiently and may be able to spot a suitable candidate better than you think.
    – user8365
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 20:02
  • @JeffO it's really a combination of several people, myself being one. We want someone who knows best practices, but how can I validate (or invalidate) his/her claims without sufficient knowledge the problem area? Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 1:06

3 Answers 3


This is a great question. Some suggestions:

  1. Hire a third-party recruiting service - Recruiters can go a long way toward finding someone that would fit the position well. Developing a relationship with an outside recruiting service can also lead to much better candidates down the road for other positions.
  2. Look up other companies hiring for the same/similar positions and see what kind of credentials/skills/experience they're looking for. Identifying what other companies are looking for will help you identify what you should be looking for in a candidate. This will help immediately cull candidates that might not have been worth interviewing due to lack of credentials.
  3. Look up popular interview questions online that you have seen other companies ask. Glassdoor can sometimes be helpful with this, but a Google search should uncover some popular interview questions for the particular position you're looking at recruiting. The same goes for certifications.

Meeting people in-person always helps. It is much easier to determine if they are legitimately skilled or if they're just lying to you, if they're sitting right in front of you. Also, as time allows, try and become more familiar with the positions that you're hiring for. Obviously an in-depth knowledge of every open position isn't practical, but just a cursory knowledge of what tasks and functions they perform would be beneficial.

Hope this helped a bit.

  • 1
    On #1, make sure this is a work-for-hire situation; recruiters who have a financial interest in your decision are bad news. Also, you can use your network to hire someone you trust for this as a short consulting thing; I know several people who've been hired for a couple hours to do a screening. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 22:20
  • @JoeStrazzere But if they don't have the expertise to know who they want, how will they have the expertise to find the guy to find the guy who they want? Should they get a recruiter to recruit a recruiter to find recruits?
    – user9158
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 23:27
  • @JoeStrazzere It was a joke.
    – user9158
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 0:45
  • I'd prefer to go the recruiter route, specifically with a contract-to-hire condition. However, recruiters as sales people trying to move candidates so their motives are often misaligned with the business. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 1:18

I've had the best results so far with personal recommendations, both for being referred and looking for people with a completely different skill focus than mine (thing backend programming and field sales).

If you know great systems/networking engineers, ask them for a recommendation or five. Most good people always know one or two other good guys who are open to a new job.

And if you tell your friend what issues you are facing they might also give you a hint as to what skills or certifications to look for. I even offered to screen and interview candidates for a friend, so that is a thing.

  • In what ways could a friend screen an interviewee other than reviewing a few resumes? Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 1:25
  • That's what I meant with screening. Reviewing resumes; looking those people up, say on stackexchange or job specific forums; checking references; everything that isn't actually interviewing but preselection for the interview, to me is screening.
    – CMW
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 6:00

You can try those things, but be careful, basing an interview by just how much a person scores on an Online Test, or how many Certificates they have or answering some Field questions doesn't mean you atomically hiring the best person for the Job.

As you mentioned your team is not hardcore systems/networking experienced.

If the position you have available is to do with Networking and you saw CISCO certification on someones CV would that be the best person for the job?. The Answer is NO.

CISCO certification lasts for 3 years i believe so that certifcation may be Obelete. You may have the latest CISCO equipment there. So, Someone else you interview that hasn't got CISCO Cert, but has worked on the latest CISCO equipment will be more valuable to you.

And its the same with most certifications

Thats the type of stuff you need to aware about.

You need someone to do the interviews with experience in Overall IT.

Not sure about Third Party interviews, most probably, if you can hire someone to fire people like in that film with George Clooney Up in the Air im sure you can do the opposite too. Check the Net.

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