Tech Savvy: How To Tell if a Potential Hire is Ready For Work in the Digital Age


The Necessary Tools

It’s hard to believe that less than a generation ago, many executives accepted the belief that touching a keyboard was beneath their position – that such business tools were meant for clerical and administrative staff only. Today, dexterity with the keyboard is only the beginning of the skills that are necessary to be a productive employee in many jobs and careers.

The importance of technical expertise and computer literacy in a candidate depends, of course, on the specific position being considered. For IT staff, the individual will have to show work experience, proper training, and certifications. However, for line operations, here are few tips to access some of the basic skills you may be seeking in an applicant:

  • Have them prepare a sample piece of work. For example, if the position is in market research, ask the potential candidate to create a simple spreadsheet similar to the work being done. Likewise, if it is a creative position, have the candidate produce a minor design project on a computer. Matching the sample work you request to the skills and technologies needed for the job may help decide which potential candidate is right for your company.
  • As an alternative, ask what specific projects have been completed in those areas of work. Let the candidate describe the software/hardware used and how they approached the task. If they can provide samples or online examples, it shows that a candidate is prepared, and technologically capable.
  • Explain the specific technical skills, software applications and technologies that are an integral part of the position being sought. Ask about the individual’s experience with those or similar products. Listen to whether they approach the issue with confidence or reservations.
  • Get the interviewee to talk about their non-work involvement with technology. Do they only reluctantly use digital tools and resources or is it second nature to their lifestyle?
  • Don’t confuse active participation in social media with technical expertise. Is it important for the job being discussed that the individual know what a “like” or “share” means to SEO issues?

It is an accepted fact that technology today is changing faster than most people and companies can track. Always interview candidates with the perspective that, in most cases, a person’s facility with technology and their ability to quickly adapt to new versions and tools is as important as competence with any given program or current hardware.