Interviewing for IT Independence

From the desk of Sarah Wolfe, CSP – PSG Recruitment Manager


The term “team-player” is one of the most commonly used in job descriptions. Many employers look for the candidates who are comfortable working in collaboration with others. But in the IT field, the ability to work independently is as important – if not more so. Being able to work independently on multiple technical projects is a big part of being successful in the IT field. It is critical to find the candidates who are able to focus in on their task and get the work done with minimal supervision. But as an interviewer, how do you identify those candidates? Simply asking the question is often not enough. Here are a number of interview questions to help ensure that a prospective hire is going to fit well in a more independent role.

Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?

This question is powerful because it cuts right to the issue at hand. You need to know whether this candidate has the ability to work on their own with minimal support, but at the same time you will learn how effective they are within a group setting. There is no right answer to this question, but always follow up by asking why they have that particular preference.

What is your ideal work environment?

Do they work well when surrounded by their co-workers in an actively shared workspace? Do they perform best when on their own, unlikely to be distracted by others? Everyone has their own preferred workplace, but learning whether that preference will align with the realities of the position will help you judge whether they are a good fit for the job.

Give an example where your independent thinking led to a professional success.

Requesting examples is an excellent interview strategy because you are able to learn about a candidate by listening to their thought process, their work history and their perceived successes. Examples of their independent thinking will help you understand how they would bring those skills to the new position and tell you whether they would be able to stand on their own while under pressure in their new job.

What have you learned from your mistakes?

Learning from past mistakes is an important part of growing as a professional. If the candidate is unable to think of a time they learned from a mistake, that’s a red flag. You can also expect to gain some insight into their abilities to work independently from this question because they will share their experience in teaching themselves how to improve. Failure is best thought of as a stepping stone to success. If they are able to identify those failures and pivot to allow for future success, their skills as an independent worker are well worth investing in.

For more help identifying the strong and independent minds that will help grow your IT team, call PSG Mississippi today.

Sarah Wolfe, CSP – PSG Recruitment Manager

It is always a great feeling to help someone get a good job at a large company with a terrific benefit package, but I particularly take pleasure in helping small businesses compete and win at hiring the best talent. The PSG difference is the effort we put into cultivating a “trusted advisor” relationship with our clients and candidates.  This collaborative experience produces the very best hires!

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