How to Interview for Technical Skills You Don’t Have

You’re a recruiter. Not a techie, a software engineer or a developer. So how the heck are you meant to know the ins and outs of your client’s profession, when you’re kept so busy with your own? It’s a tricky one, but fear not – here are my top tips on how to interview for technical skills you don’t have:

Use technology to your advantage

How to interview for technical skills you don't have.A good way to counter this is to take advantage of pre-screening features within your ATS. Set up screening questions at the application stage that filter out candidates who don’t have the necessary skills. If a candidate doesn’t meet a certain criteria, your system will automatically reject them for that role, usually with the option of sending out an email to let them know after a set period of time. Not only will this save you huge amounts of time and admin by filtering out irrelevant tech skills, it also ensures unsuccessful candidates are kept in the loop. It’s a win win!I’m sure every recruiter has at one point suffered from “needle in a haystack syndrome”…You get loads of applications, which is initially exciting but quickly turns to frustration when you realise that most of them are so far off you’re quite certain they meant to apply for a different role altogether.

Technical testing

If you’re recruiting for niche technical skills on a regular basis, investing in a technical testing system or resources might be something to consider. Testing candidates’ hard skills gives you some solid data to provide your clients, in technical skills which are essential to their company.

Not only is this bound to win you favour with your clients, but it saves you time in the selection process by ensuring only the most suitable candidates will be invited to a face to face interview.

respectEarn respect

Treating your candidates and clients well and working hard to earn their respect is another way to step ahead of the competition, whatever sector you’re in. In other words, don’t just focus on nailing the technical skills that you’re interviewing for, work on gaining a positive reputation and market authority in your niche too.

The best way to do this? Respect brings back respect. Keep your clients and candidates in the loop as much as possible, remembering that another placement to you is actually a pretty huge decision for both of them.

Push for the details

It might be tempting to skim past particular skills in an interview if you don’t have a huge amount of knowledge on what they actually entail. Instead, get as much information as you can. What are the finer details of their current role? What parts did they take responsibility for, how long for? Arming yourself with as much information as possible is the best way to win both your candidates and clients time and favour – so make sure you don’t let it slide.

Do your homework

And let’s finish with the obvious…a bit of extra research isn’t going to do you any harm! Remember that your clients are paying you to speak their language, not yours. So chances are, they won’t be appreciative of your knowledge of roles and jargon in their sector – they expect it. Don’t assume that your knowledge in recruitment is enough, you need to know their sector inside out as well if you want to be the best. And the best way to learn? Listen to your clients when you’re speaking to them. Take notes of anything your unfamiliar with, and research them. Whether it be a quick Google job, or asking a colleague for some info – knowledge will get you much further than a cocky bluff ever will.

By Kara Shorthouse

Credit: Images from farconville and digitalart via

Kara Shorthouse

Kara is a Digital Marketer based in Glasgow. In her spare time she loves a good gig, ponies and flattering Snapchat filters.

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