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3 Things To Avoid When You Are Interviewing For A Tech Leader Role

Jul 15, 2022

(Or to watch out for when interviewing for a Tech Team member)

 

Firstly, if you are about to attend an interview for a Tech Leader role – congrats! You’ve made it this far, so let’s look at how not to blow your credibility in the interview.  

 

Conversely, if you are recruiting for a Tech Team member, watch out for these red flags!

 

 

In the words of Yoda – “There is no try”

 

The only context that the word “try” should exist is in rugby and let me tell you why. 

 

Trying is not doing.  

 

When you are being interviewed:

If in the interview, you are asked:  

 

“How would you ensure the Tech Team are all on board with achieving the IT strategy?” 

 

and you respond with something like: 

 

“I would try to make sure they are on board by explaining the importance of IT within the organisation…” 

 

Then it sounds like you don’t believe that you will be able to make sure the Tech Team is on board, leaving the interviewer with a feeling of uncertainty.

 

They will be wondering if you can actually bring the Tech Team on board or not.

 

When you are interviewing potential Tech Team members:

Now, if you ask a question along the lines of:

 

“Tell me about a time when you were troubleshooting a networking problem and how you fixed it.”

 

and your candidate was to say something like:

 

“I would try to ping XYZ.” 

 

Then the word “try” would indicate that they are approaching the question from a theoretical perspective rather than from their experience.

 

You will be left uncertain as to whether the candidate could complete the task, and you will need to drill down further to understand their knowledge and experience.

 

Bonus: When dealing with a customer:

Say that you were in a role where you are talking to a customer/user about when you will be able to fix their problems.

 

The customer would say something like:

 

“When will you implement the fix?” 

 

and you reply: 

 

“I will try and do it tomorrow”.  

 

Some customers may think this means that you will do it tomorrow, but you said “try”, which translates to "I might do it or I might not". 

 

Now, if you don't actually implement the fix the next day, those customers that thought you meant that you will do it then, will be left feeling annoyed and that they have been let down.

 

Other customers may be left confused as they will not be entirely certain whether you will implement the fix tomorrow.  They may be more demanding and say:

 

“Try? Well, are you going to do it tomorrow or not?”

 

This will put you on the spot and could make you feel uncomfortable with their approach.

 

 

Stop “we-ing” all over the place!

 

I know you want to indicate that you are a team player, but sometimes, you have to use the word “I” and stop with the “we-ing”.

 

When you are being interviewed:

If you were asked a question along the lines of: 

 

“Tell me about a project you led/worked on.”

 

and you respond:

 

“We were implementing D365 for an organisation where we.....” 

 

and you continued the response using “we” every time the group was referred to; you may be asked to clarify your role within the team and further drill-down questions.  

 

If you are going to use the word “we” in response to a project team you managed, then you would use the term “my team” and make it clear you led the group and then you can use the word “we”.

 

So for this example, you could respond:

 

“I led a team of 4 to implement D365.” 

 

Or, 

 

“I was in a team of 4 to implement D365, and I was responsible for...”

 

These types of responses give much more clarity to the interviewer.  

 

You should state the team size and your role and responsibilities in this response because it clearly indicates what part you played, not the wider team.  

 

Imagine there was a team of 30 networking engineers working on a project; without the interviewer knowing what your role is in that team, they could assume that you were hiding in the corner while everyone else did the work.  

 

When you are interviewing potential Tech Team members:

If you ask a question along the lines of:

 

“Tell me about a time when you faced a challenging problem and what you did to fix it.”

 

and say something like 

 

“My most challenging problem was when all emails over seven days old were accidentally deleted and, to fix it, we restored the mailbox”. 

 

This statement would indicate that more than one person was involved in the mailbox restore.

 

So an appropriate question to drill down further would be: 

 

“Who else was working with you on this, and what part did you play in the fix?”   

 

 

Both of these are symptoms of “blagging”

 

I get it; people want the job they are interviewing for, it could be their dream job, so they take a chance on “blagging”.

 

No one knows the answer to absolutely every single question, nor are they expected to. 

 

Rather than give a response that doesn’t reflect your experience, state that you haven’t been in that scenario before, and then outline the steps you would take.

 

When you are being interviewed:

If you were asked about how you have handled poor performance and terminated a person previously and you haven’t been in that situation before, an appropriate response would be: 

 

“I have been fortunate not to be in that position previously, and I would ask HR where I could find the policy and procedure for performance improvement and for the best person in HR to discuss this with.”

 

The interviewer is then clear that you know what steps you would need to take to resolve the issue at hand (remember, as a Tech Leader, you need to be able to demonstrate the ability to think independently)

 

What happens if you “blag” your way through an interview?  

If you were to "successfully blag" your way through an interview, you are effectively setting yourself up for failure.  

 

You start to spiral into thinking whether today is going to be your last and who is going to throw you under the bus. 

 

Imposter syndrome starts to sneak in, and the little voice becomes that person you cannot shake, questioning every single decision and thought that comes into your head – even though you know that you are capable of doing this, some days it feels like you aren’t good enough after all.

 

Not only that but the organisation you have just started with will notice that you aren’t up to scratch and may choose to release you during your probationary period. If you make it past the probation review, you could end up on improvement plans or even disciplinary.

 

If you “blag” and are caught out in the interview, you most certainly won’t get the role.  

 

Sometimes, you may have a particular type of interviewer, and you may notice a shift in the questioning where they become much more direct and fire questions at you to trip you up.

 

 

ACTIONS:

 

  • Remove the word “try” from your vocabulary
  • Stop using the word “we” and use “I” more often
  • Say it the way it is 
  • Never blag your way through an interview

 

 

Secret Tip:

 

You will have noticed in the example response about handling poor performance, I used the term “and” where you may have been expecting to see a “but”. It is written this way on purpose.  

 

“For what purpose” I hear you ask…. 

 

Well, the word “but” is a word that will automatically get people’s defence systems up, as the word “and” conveys much less conflict.

 

ACTION:

Use an agreement frame when you want to put across a different point of view where you think they will not accept it.

 

Instead of saying:

 

“I hear what you are saying, but I think….”

 

use:

 

“I hear what you are saying, and I think…..”

 

The other person will more likely consider your point with less conflict.

 

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