MAXX Potential

Beyond the Resume: Assessing Potential of Entry-Level Tech Talent

By The Team at MAXX

Two technologists discuss what it takes to go beyond the resume for the technical interview

A good hire is more than a checklist of technical skills, and most tech companies turn to the technical interview process to assess a candidate’s abilities. While a technical interview provides powerful information about a job recruit’s skill set, it offers another, maybe more important, data point: a look at a candidate’s character traits.

When assessing a candidate, a hiring manager seeks the ideal combination of experience and skill set. The entry-level space is often a catch-22 for everyone–hiring managers look for experience and entry-level applicants are looking for experience that just isn’t available. This is when a candidate’s underlying motivation can be the true barometer of their technical career potential. 

At MAXX Potential, our interview process is designed to spot tech talent potential with an eye to longevity in the field. MAXX Apprentices often arrive to us, exhibiting an interest in technology, but with a lack of experience. Candidates are often missed because their resumes don’t pass the screening process.  

“Resume assessment can create barriers for people seeking employment. At MAXX Potential, we want to remove those barriers.” Tricia Micheux, MAXX Potential Talent Acquisition Specialist, shares, “I am less interested in what level of education you have and more interested in how you’re achieving your tech goals on your own.”

These tech-savvy individuals have the potential to become great IT employees, but they never get the chance. 

A Harvard Business Review article asked readers to Imagine A Hiring Process Without Resumes, and the authors shared stories of businesses that implemented open hiring, on-the-job development, standardized accountability, and overall employee care. Hires were made based on willingness, and these businesses benefited by quick hiring and less overhead hiring costs. 

What if more companies applied these ideas in their own hiring practices? What if more businesses hired based on aptitude, perseverance, or passion for the industry?

3 Characteristics to Seek During a Technical Interview

Technical interviewers have a difficult challenge of determining whether or not a candidate has the necessary technical requirements for the job opening. A great technical interview takes into consideration the day-to-day responsibilities of the particular role and creates opportunities for discussion around problem solving skills, practices, and processes. They observe how candidates interact with the problems, demonstrating their character traits.

At MAXX Potential, our team looks for aptitude, perseverance, and passion. We listen to what candidates say and what they don’t say. While they explain their technical skills, we listen closer to hear the resiliency and excitement behind their work.

1. Hunger for Technical Problem Solving

A key statute of the information technology field is problem solving, and a technical interview analyzes a job candidate’s ability to evaluate, determine a problem-solving process, and implement that solution. It’s inevitable that those within a tech role will face problems that they don’t know how to solve. How does the candidate interact with the problem? Are they hungry to solve the problem? Does a problem ignite interest or drain them?

At MAXX Potential, we start with a scenario-driven hypothetical question. Once the candidate answers, our team asks more questions, pressing the candidate to flex his or her analytical skills and consider edge cases. How far is the candidate willing to go to think outside of the box?

While it’s important to listen to what the candidates share about themselves, it’s just as important to observe what their body language and attitudes say about their motivation for the technical problem. The technical field attracts many individuals because of the promise of an impressive paycheck. Yet, not every individual is cut out to spend their days in the trenches of problem solving.

2. A Learning Mindset and Perseverance

When a candidate says “I don’t know” or seems to have gotten to the end of their first take at a solution, the next question to ask is the following: what is your process to find a solution to a problem when you don’t know? 

The character traits that MAXX Potential hopes to see the candidate demonstrate are perseverance and curiosity. Is the candidate willing to struggle with the problem? Is the candidate ready to analyze the problem from different angles?

During this part of the interview, the hiring panel observes the job recruit’s soft skills in action. When faced with a difficult problem, is the candidate comfortable asking clarifying questions? While some roles are behind the scenes, many tech roles require the ability to interact with clients and teams of people to complete the project, so it’s important to see strong communication and interpersonal skills. 

This conversation allows us to see how candidates communicate and think through a challenge, meet surprise issues, and persevere to find a solution. This reveals who has the initiative to pursue a task, interact with a team, ask strategic questions, and learn the skills required to reach a solution. 

Curious people can’t help but persevere to find answers, and these traits are a great foundation for technologists. While a resume outlines hard skills, a great technical interview uncovers character traits and soft skills.

3. The Light-Up Moments

As we meet and talk with each job recruit, we’re looking for their aptitude and perseverance to highlight a true passion for technical problem solving.

To bring that characteristic to the forefront, candidates are invited to present a project they’ve worked on that demonstrates their technical skills and their joy. The candidate has an opportunity to show off their skills in an area where they’re familiar, and the interviewing panel observes the candidate in their sweet spot and asks relevant questions to unearth more potential.

At MAXX Potential, we root for each candidate’s success and want to provide that moment for the candidate to stand out and present a technical project they’re proud of as well as discuss their future projects. Micheux points out, “Sometimes it is easy to forget that those involved in the interview process are humans. Being able to connect on a person-to-person level is something that feels unique to MAXX Potential and can often get lost in the technical interview process.”

“Sometimes it is easy to forget that those involved in the interview process are humans. Being able to connect on a person-to-person level is something that feels unique to MAXX Potential and can often get lost in the technical interview process.”

Tricia Micheux, MAXX Potential Talent Acquisition Specialist

A resume offers the story of education and job experience, but it doesn’t always account for a person’s passion. When we see job recruits light up, we see individuals with the motivation to pursue a technical career.

Going Beyond the Resume with MAXX Potential

Discovering the best tech talent starts with evaluating potential, and MAXX Potential built our apprenticeship program on these talent assessment techniques. We look for the people who have been filtered out through traditional recruiting methods.

Partner with MAXX Potential and discover entry-level talent to build out your team with a strong bench on the sidelines. For our clients, we serve as a go-to partner for the entry-level tech roles, and for candidates, we provide an avenue for hungry and flexible learners to excel in an IT career.

Let us handle the technical interview so you can stay focused on your business. Get in touch with MAXX Potential today.


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