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Hiring an IT Consultant can be a stressful process. Unlike hiring a marketing firm or a business consultant, an IT Consultant likely needs access to most of your company framework in order to do their job properly. You’ll want to make sure you select the right person or team for your company.

Narrow down your options by interviewing all potential IT Consultants and evaluating their responses on an unbiased scale.  You’ll want to ask them all of the questions you would ask any consultant regardless of their profession, in addition to the following IT specific queries.

How much experience do you have in our particular field?

It may seem like an obvious question, but you would be surprised at how many different variations of the IT Professional there are in the world. Information Technology for a financial institution may look completely different than Information Technology for a healthcare institution.

Ask candidates to describe any experience they have working in your industry. Probe for industry-specific complications that they have dealt with and recent successes they have celebrated.

What is going on in the world today that may directly affect my industry?

Similar to the last question, this one is designed to help you determine the candidate’s level of expertise. Are they staying up to date with relevant topics, or have they been using the same technique for the last 20 years?

It may be beneficial to do a bit of research ahead of time in order to prepare yourself for this question. Answer the question yourself and bring your list of potential answers with you to the interview. If a candidate indicates that they are unaware of any industry-related news, prompt them with a specific topic that you have already identified.

Do you have any non-negotiable vendor affiliations?

We all have a list of our favorite products or companies. Odds are so does your IT Consultant. You will need to check whether or not your candidate has turned his or her favorites into an exclusive affiliation.  While they are not necessarily a bad thing, vendor affiliations may directly impact the capabilities of your potential consultant.

Make sure that the products and software being utilized are compatible with the equipment and systems you already have. Request the reason behind any particular affiliations to assess whether they were born out of familiarity, comfortability, or merit.

What is your confidentiality policy?

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you can ask any potential contractor or business liaison, but it is particularly important when hiring an IT Consultant. As I mentioned before, you are most likely going to be exposing them to very confidential information.

A reputable IT Consultant will already have a predefined policy, or at least offer to sign one provided by your company. Protect your data assets by shying away from consultants that are openly opposed to a written and signed policy that addresses confidentiality and non-compete cases.