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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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What to Ask and Look for When Interviewing a New IT Hire

Posted December 30, 2015by Steve Flanigan

Your company has decided to hire a new member for your IT Department, and you have been tasked with the job of advertising the listing and interviewing the applicants. In the job description, you've defined the position, what it entails and the minimum requirements the ideal candidate must meet. But let's take the case of a general IT technical position, one in which there is no specific specialization required. Once you have posted the position both internally and externally and received many, if not hundreds of resumes for this one position, how do you narrow down the selection to find the most qualified applicant? This is where your work really begins!


Before You Begin Interviewing...

Your first job is to filter the resumes to weed out undesirable candidates. Create three “piles," making the first one a dumping ground for the resumes of those applicants who are clearly not qualified for the job you posted. Why did they even bother applying?? Assign the second pile to applicants that “do not quite fully meet the requirements, but have potential.” Finally, save the third pile for the “definitely interview” technician applicants.

 

Talking Points When Interviewing for Your IT Department

Great! You are ready to start calling the applicants and setting up interviews. Before you do, however, do you know what you're expecting of both the candidate and of yourself during the interview? Have you familiarized yourself with the requirements of the role you're hiring for? 

Since we are using a general IT technical position, here are several talking points you might consider when interviewing:

1. What was the applicant's position(s) prior, and how do they feel their previous experience is relevant to the position they're applying for? How could it benefit your company?

2. Did they have any challenges that they had to research in order to solve? If so, how were the results?

3. Did they have any challenges in which they needed to ask for assistance? If so, did they find it easy to ask for help or were they hesitant to ask for help? After their response, ask they why they chose the path they did.

4. Do they prefer to work individually or as part of a team? Either way can be good depending on the situation, but this question often determines if the applicant can be flexible, or comfortable enough to work either way.

5. Give them scenarios to complete. For instance, ask the applicant to explain how they'd handle a user calling to complain that they have no image on their monitor. In itself, this seems simple enough to troubleshoot, but this scenario will let you see how your applicant would manage the situation.

6. Give them a situation that would require them to ask for help or do some research. An example might be that a user calls stating that they cannot send or receive email via the Exchange Server. How would the applicant handle this type of challenge, especially if they have no Exchange Server experience?

7. One last thing you might want to consider covering is the applicant's confidence in their own skill set. For instance, say they complete a task successfully, but a coworker suggests another way to do the same task. Would this constructive criticism bother the applicant, or are they confident enough to handle this type of feedback? This is important in an IT environment. There are many different ways to achieve the same goal, but some are more efficient than others.


Additional Considerations for Hiring Technicians 

There are, of course, other considerations during the interview process. This list is just meant to get you started. Some talking points may not come to mind at first, but after thinking about the duties that the job entails you may generate other questions for your applicant. For instance, is the candidate afraid of heights or ladders? You might be wondering why this question would be pertinent, but working in IT doesn’t mean you only crawl under things. Sometimes, you have to climb up to IT environments. I actually know someone who can work with switches and routers all day as long as he doesn’t have to climb a ladder to get to them. If my colleague has to access a device higher than eight feet, he has to ask someone else to do it for him because of his fear of heights.

Can your applicant multi-task? Yes, it’s been proven that multi-tasking has a negative effect on efficiency, but is your applicant able to refocus quickly on the task at hand if distracted or interrupted?

Are flexible hours an issue? Sometimes, at the last minute, things go wrong. You just can’t wait until the next business day to remedy them. Additional work time is needed to fix the problem.

I've just barely scratched the surface of technician interviewing criteria. A lot of these considerations are dependent on your company’s type of business and how your IT Department prefers to handle the management of tech duties. For more best practices, reach out to other employees in your department, and ask if they can contribute thoughtful questions to add during the interview process. This may just help you find the right applicant for your vacant position.


For more IT How-tos

The Definitive Guide to Managed IT Services [eBook] 

I have over 20 years of I.T. experience ranging from Help Desk to Network and Systems Administration. My current position is I.T. support at a local college where I oversee the preparation, maintenance and operations of the entire instructional staff. Outside of my full time position at the college I also create instructional videos, contribute to technical blogs as well as manage and maintain a variety of websites.

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