Inside Expert: How to Hire an IT Professional

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur magazine|February 1, 2013

Q: How do I make sure my full-time IT hire knows his or her stuff?

A: From your question, I assume that the days of enlisting everyone to jump in and help each other figure out hardware and software issues, from setting up a network to hooking up the printer, has become a waste of time. Or maybe your system crashed and you discovered that your IT contractor, the one who set up your business and knows it inside and out, is on vacation.

Whatever the case, there comes a day when a full-time IT staffer is no longer a luxury but a necessity. That day arrives for the average tech company upon reaching 20 employees, according to Spiceworks, a small-business IT management platform with clients worldwide. Nontech businesses can usually wait until they cross the 70-employee threshold.

So how do you know whether the IT candidate who answered your want ad is up to the task? We asked Nathan Brown, senior director of IT and production operations for Waltham, Mass.-based, which connects consumers with care providers, to detail his own selection process.

What kind of tests should IT candidates take?
I conclude IT interviews by having potential hires set up what will ultimately become their own computers. I’ll ask them to install and configure software from scratch, and to do it as if they were setting up a standard configuration for the company. This exercise allows me to assess an applicant’s ability to think long-term and big-picture, because I want my IT staff to…

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