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3 tips for hiring top-notch IT service desk managers

3 tips for hiring top-notch IT service desk managers

Customer service is paramount to a thriving business. Here’s how to hire the best guardian of the public perception of your company.

Customer loyalty and public image are key to business success – especially in the age of Twitter and Facebook, where one public complaint or disparaging comment can do lasting damage to your brand. As a result, it’s increasingly important for businesses to maintain a public-friendly image, and that starts with top-notch customer service. Here, few roles are more important than the IT service desk manager.

With your reputation on the line, hiring an IT service desk manager should never be taken lightly. But if you’re struggling to fill the role, says Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid Technologies, an ITSM, service desk and help desk software solution company, the problem isn’t the pool of candidates. It’s that “IT is changing, but the hiring process is not.”

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Here are three tips for landing a valuable IT service desk manager.

Consider the job description

Writing a job description shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you want to attract the best candidates, you need to use the right language in your job posting.

Because “IT service delivery is all about service,” Lahav says, be sure to emphasize your need for a “people person.” Technical skills can be taught on the job, but you can’t teach someone to embrace customer service if interpersonal communication isn’t their strong suit.

Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, an online community for IT pros, says that it’s important to establish your expectations for the role of IT service desk manager before you post. Are there highly specific skills necessary for success in the job? Or would someone with more general knowledge in multiple areas be a better fit?

“The more specific you are with the job description, the better you can filter applicants. If you don’t spend a little extra time on this important step, you’ll end up sifting through a lot of applications from underqualified candidates,” he says.

Focus on what matters

When reading the CV or resume of a potential candidate, be sure to look past, what Lahav calls, “CV circus acts.” Focus on the candidate’s experience to “see where the dots connect between them and you.” Hard skills change fast, so it’s important to zero in on whether the candidate understands the current technology they’re supporting, and whether they are adaptable to rapid change.

Nanci Churchill, chief operations officer for MOBI, a company offering EMM solutions, looks for candidates who exhibit an ability to think on their feet, solve problems and adapt to changes.

“Technical ability can be trained, but it’s important to find candidates who are comfortable owning an issue and using multiple resources to solve a new problem,” she says.

You want to move beyond resume jargon and “buzzwords” to better understand a candidate’s entire story. With a close eye, you can uncover a lot about a candidate’s experience, personality and trustworthiness, Tsai says.

“Exceptional job seekers will typically bring their qualifications to life by providing examples of specific projects they worked on along with quantifiable results they achieved, such as money saved, processes improved, or efficiencies achieved,” he says.

Dig in during the interview

Even if you’re pushing to fill a vacancy quickly, don’t gloss over the interview process.

Churchill looks for people who exhibit “creative problem solving” and a penchant for “customer advocacy,” noting that IT service desk employees are in a unique position to help improve products because they are the first point of contact for customers facing software or hardware issues. If you ask the right questions in the interview, you can hire people who will help make the IT service department a valuable tool for improving products and services, not just troubleshooting them.

“At SysAid, we ask questions that are most common with our day-to-day work to try to understand how the prospect would handle certain situations -- we’re not always looking for the right answer, but to see how they would deal with stressful, difficult or intimidating situations and to explain their help process,” says Lahav.

As a customer-facing department, IT service desk managers need to work well under pressure to stay afloat in a demanding, often thankless, role. You can get a feel for how fit a candidate is during the interview process by presenting unique situations that might arise and asking them to walk you through a time they faced similar adversity at previous companies.

“Ask the right questions and dig deeper where it matters and move on when it doesn’t. Take the time to imagine how this person will behave in front of your team and customers, and give them an honest appraisal,” says Lahav.

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