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February 21, 2020

Stacy Gianoulis Explains How to Interview a Service Desk Analyst



The purpose of a job interview is to give you, the employer, the opportunity to assess whether a candidate’s qualifications and career ambitions align with your company and its mission. But when it comes to hiring for skill-based roles like a service desk analyst, the interview becomes an artform.



In order to assess whether a candidate is a perfect fit, you’ll need to know much more than whether the individual is personable or if their technical qualifications match your needs. In other words, in service desk roles, talking the talk is much less important — candidates must show they can perform the task and do so with skill and expertise.

According to Stacy Gianoulis, Assistant Vice President for the Client Services & Support department at Boston University’s IS&T, this is what makes skill-based interviewing such a challenge. When done well, your hiring team will be able to identify and pinpoint candidates that will truly help your organization excel.

As you move forward with the interview process, Stacy Gianoulis suggests you keep these hiring principles and practices in mind. They will give you an outline of how to approach the vetting process as well as providing you with tips on how to assess a candidate’s abilities for overall fit.

Conduct an Initial Phone (News - Alert) Interview

In-person interviews might be preferable for many other roles, but when it comes to hiring a service desk analyst, there is no better option than a phone interview — especially right off the bat. If you’re looking to hire a service desk analyst, there’s a pretty good chance the successful candidate will spend much of his or her day navigating calls, making his phone etiquette and communication skills of upmost importance.

That’s why an initial phone interview is a perfect way to test the candidate’s overall phone and communication skills. How does he manage himself during a call? Is he courteous? Does he speak clearly, thoughtfully, confidently, and with purpose? A short, initial phone interview is the perfect opportunity to assess.

Stacy Gianoulis also highlights that phone interviews are a great way to lower the initial time investment when vetting candidates, allowing your hiring team to more quickly screen and assess individuals. As a result, your organization can more efficiently find and hire candidates that meet its unique needs.

Use Role Play

For best results, action-based interviews are preferable when seeking to fill a service desk position. Skip over traditional interview questions — or at least pare them back in favor of rigorous, practical assessment activities.

Instead, turn to role-play to screen candidates. Run a simulation, ask real-life scenarios, and simulate troubleshooting situations. On top of allowing interviewers to explore the candidate’s technical knowledge, this also gives precious insight into how the individual would perform in the role.

As you listen, consider the candidate’s performance: does he speak confidently? Is he taking the scenario seriously? Does he fall back into using problematic trigger words? Does he exude empathy? Does his tone match the needs of the conversation?

Review the Role Play

If the role-play was effective, the candidate should have collected the so-called “Five W’s” without being prompted:

  1. Who is calling?
  2. What the issue is
  3. When it started
  4. Where the caller is located
  5. Why the issue is happening

The best candidates will be able to pinpoint all five in less than 90 seconds.

After the role-play scenario ends, take time to review the results with the candidate. Assess how much of the information they synthesized by asking follow-up questions. Then, based on your assessment of the role play, provide the candidate with feedback.

In 20 minutes or less, interviewers should be able to tell whether the candidate’s basic skill level matches the organization’s needs. If the individual shows promise, it’s time to schedule a second interview.

Follow Up with a Second Interview

If a candidate reaches the second interview, it’s because they show considerable promise and your organization is highly interested in moving forward with them. The second interview should be quite similar in nature to the initial interview, but slightly more intensive. While the first interview can be considered a general screening, the second interview should be devised to go more in-depth and more thoroughly explore a candidate’s experience and skills.

For the second interview, Stacy Gianoulis recommends leading again with a role-play approach. As the troubleshooting scenario unfolds, the interviewer should take special notice of whether the candidate is effectively applying the feedback which was provided during the previous call. Was he able to successfully alter his approach? Has he demonstrated the ability to learn and adapt? Is there a significant improvement between the first call and the second interview?

If so, it’s likely that the candidate shows considerable promise, meaning a third and final interview is likely the next step.

Stacy Gianoulis on Conducting a Panel Interview

After one or two phone interviews to initially screen candidates and test their technological and customer service skills, it’s time to move forward with a panel interview. Generally, this is the final stage in the interview process and it should ideally be conducted in-person with your organization’s full hiring board.

At this stage, each candidate should be highly promising. During previous interviews, they will have demonstrated considerable skill in role-play sessions. If a candidate reaches this stage, you should be confident and excited about their abilities.

During the role-play sessions, these candidates will have proven their skills. Now, the panel’s job is to further assess the prevalence of those skills alongside analyzing the individual’s fit: do their values align with your team’s mission? Will they settle well in your company culture? Will they actively add to your work environment and team?

Because these matters are largely interpersonal and social in nature, Stacy Gianoulis highly recommends that this final interview happens in person rather than over the phone. This allows the interviewers to get a better feel for whether each candidate will fit in the support center’s culture. If an individual has the skills your organization needs, values that match the company’s, and goals that align, they’ll likely make an excellent addition to your team. 



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