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Tyler Rousseau on Library Garden has some interesting ideas on ways to test an applicant’s tech-savviness. He says to forget the buzzwords and actually test skills instead.  Right on.  I commented that I think that his list applies to most library positions – definitely any library position.  We should all be able to attach documents to emails and talk online via some method (IM, Skype, something).  And if they’re not doing it now, they should be able to figure it out if it’s part of the application process (if they want the job bad enough, and are curious and interested enough, they’ll figure it out). 

And testing an IT person’s skills is a lot tricker, but it can be done…assuming you have someone on the other end who can verify the accuracy of the responses.  I advocate for essay questions and actual problem-solving questions that present a real problem and ask for code, or a project plan, or a network diagram.  Those things will show you how "IT" your "IT applicant" really is.

“How to test applicants’ tech skills”

  1. Graeme Williams Says:

    The local library is hiring a new director, who might remain in the position for ten or more years. I’m just a patron, but it seems to me that many of the challenges that the new director will face over the next ten years will involve accommodating rapid changes in technology.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to ask candidates for director to configure a wireless connection, but I don’t see how they can succeed unless they can tell a wiki from a Wookiee. How would you test the technical competence of candidates for director?

  2. Sarah Houghton-Jan (LiB) Says:

    Graeme-I will take a stab at answering your question, and I hope others offer their input as well. To test a director’s general technology knowledge, I would ask a few questions during the interview. I would ask about the person’s professional and personal experience with Web 2.0 technologies including wikis, blogs, social networking, etc. I would also ask one or two pointed questions aimed at sussing out whether the person knows what he or she is talking about. I would ask if the person says they’ve used a wiki, what the editing process was like for them and if they could describe it. If the person said they used Facebook, I’d ask what their favorite application was within Facebook. The only people who will bristle at these questions are those who lied in response to the first question. If they really know or use anything, they’ll be able to tell you at least something about it. I would also consider a general question about how the person thinks web 2.0 technologies can improve library services, and to give two examples. Do this live, though, not in a pre-essay question. It’s too easily researched and knowledge too easily faked.

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