You’re a hiring manager in a law firm and you’ve hired plenty of attorneys, paralegals and other support staff. Now you need to hire an IT manager. Where do you even start? You don’t know anything about IT!

How hiring a technical resource and a non-technical resource are the same

First, anyone you hire should fit within your corporate culture. Make sure they understand your industry and your vision for the role. Clarify details of your way of working, such as expectations of availability. Your team works around the clock to support a trial, so your IT support needs to understand the rigors and timelines of litigation and the potential stress involved.

Make sure you hire someone who you could envision actually fitting in with the rest of the company. If your firm is friendly but no-nonsense and all the candidates you interview don’t know when to stop talking and starting actually getting down to work, they likely won’t be the right choice. Technical skills can be improved with the right training but a bad fit for personality can affect the makeup of an entire group. Hiring the wrong profile can cost your company thousands of dollars. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the price of a bad hire is at least 30% of that employee’s first-year earnings.

How hiring a technical resource is NOT the same

Culture and fit—those things you know intrinsically. You’ve been reviewing candidates, conducting interviews and making successful hires for a while now. You can quickly assess in a phone interview whether someone is going to work well with the team or just grate on everyone’s nerves. But it’s that technical part that has you concerned. You know all the right words to check on a resume for skills but how can you really know whether this person actually can deliver?

Consider giving them a hypothetical project or a challenge that is relevant to what they would do in the role in the real world to do as part of the interview. Consult with your current IT support team or a trusted external IT recruiter and ask for a scenario. Maybe the power has gone out and the team is in the middle of a trial, burning the midnight oil. How do they access the firm’s files? Ask your candidate to recommend a data back-up plan or even suggest specific questions they would ask about your current back-up or continuity plan to confirm how it would support the team—and keep them working—in this situation.

When you give a candidate a hypothetical project or scenario to respond to as part of the interview process, make sure they have a few days to come back with a solution but make the deadline firm. Tell them they can email questions to you or a technical expert you designate if they need to clarify anything. This way, you not only evaluate their technical skills but also their written communication skills and thought process. This will shed some light into whether they truly have the ability and know-how to support your firm.

When to ask for help

You’ve interviewed the candidate and they seem like they’d fit within your existing team and structure. No one will be afraid to call IT support! Hurray! You’ve tested them with a project and their solution seems reasonable and is technically sound. If you have access to a Chief Technology Officer, have them review and do the final sign-off before you officially make an offer.

If this seems overwhelming, or if you don’t have any technical support to assist, consider outsourcing the IT recruitment process entirely. At Align Workforce Solutions, we’ve helped hundreds of people in your exact situation. We interview you first to understand your technical needs and your corporate culture before we even start searching for candidates. We’ll do all the leg work and confirm all needed technical expertise, presenting you with a short list of people we know can do the work in your industry in your way. This process saves you time and, most importantly, gives you peace of mind—your team will always be supported and have the tech know-how they need, when they need it.

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