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“Talking Tech: Mr. Magoo, the Mumbler and the Mad Scientist (How to hire the right IT person)” – Business Examiner (October 31, 2011)

by David Leonhardt

If you grew up during the 1960s or ’70s, then the names Leonard Stern and Roger Price are probably household names.

No? Well, that just means you need to look more closely at the covers of your “Mad Libs” books and you’ll see Stern and Price listed as the authors. You do remember the game, right?

Your partner prompts you for “a noun,” “a verb,” “a color” and so forth. Then once you’ve supplied the complete list, you wind up with a story like “the pickle surprised us by flying over the house wearing a pair of pink socks.”

I think with a little tweaking we can use this approach to identify the most important things to look for in your “IT Guy.”

Quickly now, fill in the blank on what’s the most important attribute needed by your IT Guy?

If you filled in something like “technically strong,” then you’re partially correct. Understanding the subject matter is important and a candidate person or firm that can’t find their way around the keyboard is not going to do you or your technology much good at all.

Today’s infrastructure is incredibly complicated, so your IT Guy needs to understand how technology works and, even more importantly, how to glue it all together effectively.

Too much technical skill, though, also can be a problem. If your candidate says something like “I prefer open-source applications on a LINUX platform running Ubuntu,” then be warned that this candidate is likely not suited for your business.

Anyone who has remodeled a house lately might have filled in the blank with “is punctual” or “available” as the most important attribute.

This is again only partially correct. But if you’ve ever sat at home waiting for the cable guy, the washing machine repair man or any similar service provider, then you know how important this can be.

Answering the phone and arriving on time, which quite honestly are the easy things, have an enormous impact on your level of satisfaction with a service. I suspect that one could send Mr. Magoo out on a service call and, if he arrived on time, you’d likely get positive feedback from the client about the visit — despite the fact that he drove off the roller coaster and ran into the side of the building.

The client would, of course, still need the problem solved, so maybe that’s not such a good idea.

If you filled in the blank with “chemistry,” “cultural fit” or “communication skills,” then that ringing sound means you found the preferred answer.

The ability of your IT Guy to establish rapport, trust and a working relationship with you and your team is, in my experience, the most critical piece of the IT support puzzle.

How do you figure out ahead of time if your candidate is going to be successful?…

… read the rest on the Business Examiner website