First, we had The Great Resignation. Now we have The Great Reshuffling. All to say that the pandemic has been a catalyst for many people to find new positions that allowed them to work remotely and still make a livable wage. Fast forward two-plus years, and people are still re-evaluating their work-life balance, pay grade, and responsibilities.
What does this mean? There are lots of great candidates out there looking for new positions. This also means that there are lots of hiring managers scrambling to make quick decisions that will impact the business.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about interviewing and hiring. Today, I want to focus on the hiring manager. Specifically, how to interview candidates for roles you don’t know all that well. Here are some pro tips for hiring managers.
As a hiring manager, you may find yourself out of your depth. You’re likely interviewing candidates will skills you don’t have. You may not even be a hiring manager or have interviewed candidates before. So let’s start there. What is a hiring manager?
A hiring manager is the “future manager” of the person that you are interviewing. Depending on the structure of your company, you may be the only person conducting interviews. Sometimes, you’ll work in concert with Human Resources to hire new team members. In larger companies, there may be whole teams that conduct many rounds of interviews.
Not all employees that act as hiring managers make good hiring managers. With so much turnover, many people who have never acted as a hiring manager are being asked to step in. Interviewing candidates and making decisions on who to hire is not easy and is its own skill set. It can be overwhelming and daunting. Candidates are putting their best foot forward, all shiny and polished. What you read on their resume is the best of what they have to offer. It can be hard to know if you’re seeing the real person in the span of 30 minutes.
So, how do you approach an interview if you aren’t used to being a hiring manager?
You cannot know everything. Let’s get that out of the way. I know it’s harsh, but it’s true. For example, I only understand about 60% of what Chris says. Does that mean I can’t manage him? Absolutely not. Here’s the secret – but first, a little background.
For about a decade, I managed engineers, database architects, epidemiologists, sales, and marketing teams. Am I an expert in all those things? Nope. So, what makes me qualified to manage and hire for those teams?
It’s all about the questions you ask. When I was in that previous role, part of my job was to advocate for those teams to the senior leadership team. I was their representative in meetings to get them what they needed. Those teams helped me understand what they were doing in a way that I could communicate on their behalf.
This is the secret. This is how you approach interviewing as a hiring manager. Let’s say I was interviewing for a data scientist role for Trust Insights. I don’t know the ins and outs of data science – so I would not know if someone was BS’ing me and throwing jargon my way.
It’s on you to dig deeper. Have the candidate explain specifics to you as if you were going to have to advocate for them to someone else. Ask them to give concrete examples of not only what they have done, but why they chose to do it that way. You need to ask questions about cost and time savings, the accuracy of outcomes, and the after actions. Don’t stop at the general experience.
For example: “You mentioned that you use machine learning to do your analysis. The senior team only cares about conversion rates on the website. Help me understand why that is the right method so that I can justify your analysis choice. They will ask me if this is the most accurate and cost-effective way to look at the data.”
Another example: “On your resume, you mention that you increased website traffic by 60% with a consistent SEO strategy. I need to justify spending money on SEO to my management team. Help me understand your specific tactics so that I could do that”.
A word of caution – this is not the same as “pretend I know nothing about this and explain it”. The problem with that tactic is that it opens the door for the candidate to not tell you anything valuable. That question does not lend itself well to making good hiring decisions. Keep tying it back to advocacy on the candidate’s behalf. They need to help you, so you can help them.
This technique works for all kinds of skills and roles. The goal of this exercise is to see if the candidate understands the material or if they know a few buzzwords. The right candidate will be able to break down a complex concept into more simplistic terms. You’re still asking for examples of their work but by framing it this way you get more specifics and less noise.
Do you need support with your hiring process? You can find me in our Free Slack Group, Analytics for Marketers
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