IT interviews: TR's quick tips to test a candidate's geekness

TechRepublic posts 10 interview questions that can help hiring managers find the right level of geekness for IT job candidates.

For obvious reasons, I could never get a job working as an IT guy. I know a little bit of this and a little bit of that but that doesn't qualify me to do what those workers do. But aside from that, I wouldn't be able to get through the "10 interview questions to help make the best geeky hire" offered in Justin James' post on Tech Republic.

As James points out, finding a candidate with the right technical skills is one thing, but finding a candidate with the personality to fit into an IT department. As he points out, the only thing worse than hiring someone who is clueless about the job is hiring someone who is clueless about geek subjects.

The post, which is also available as a PDF download, is not your run-of-the-mill sort of advice. But it is a must-read for those who truly want to rate their candidate's geekiness. Consider a couple of these excerpts:

  • Star Wars or Star Trek? If there’s one way you can really judge a job candidate’s true character, it is by determining their preference between Star Wars and Star Trek. Make sure that when you ask this question, you give no indication whatsoever which you prefer! Some interviewees will try to take a compromise position and say, “I like them both equally.” This is utter nonsense and the sign of an intellectual weakling who cannot make a decision. Regardless of how they answer, demand that they back up their opinion with facts. This will ensure that they have the ability to remember ridiculous levels of detail and fit logic and reasoning into a fantasy world, talents that are required to survive in the world of corporate IT.
  • How will you bribe the gamesmaster? One of the honored traditions in the world of role-playing games is giving the gamesmaster bottles of soda, pizzas, and other treats in an effort to curry favor and gain preferential treatment for your character. Potential employees should not only be familiar with this tactic, but they should be proficient in it. Those who are ignorant of this (or worse, do not know what a “gamesmaster” is) should not be hired, of course. Be wary of interviewees who see it as a form of cheating or sucking up. After all, if you hire this person, do you really want them to have a bad attitude about “taking care of” those who pull the strings… like you?
  • What were the original Intel Pentium CPUs most famous for? If candidates don’t know the correct answer to this (”math errors”) and other notable tech screw-ups, they are definitely lacking in credibility. There are a variety of these kinds of questions to ask. They combine the human trait for remembering failure and the geek obsession with trivia. They also remind job candidates that their mistakes will be remembered as well, perhaps for decades.

And finally, a must-know item with no excuses allowed: Who is Gary Gygax?

Do you know? Check out the Tech Republic post for the answer.