Contributor: Ashley Cox of Sprout HR
How do you know what questions to ask someone if you’re hiring them to do something you don’t know how to do (coding/something technical)?
Answer: Over the past decade, I’ve spent a great deal of time recruiting and interviewing candidates for a variety of positions. As a corporate recruiter, you often don’t have experience working in the positions for which you’re hiring. This means you have to do a bit of work on the front end in order to successfully hire someone who will not only have the right soft skills and be a good fit for the company culture, but also one who can competently perform the essential functions of the job.
I’ve hired for everything from Entry-Level Managers to Civil Engineers, Corporate Real Estate Managers to Pharmacists and Distribution Center Directors. I’ve even successfully hired IT Managers (and anything tech-related is NOT a strength of mine!).
Just because you don’t know much about a field or position, doesn’t mean you can’t confidently make a successful hire!! But, there is definitely some work that needs to go into the process before you just start interviewing folks.
Let’s dive right in now! Here are my three best tips for hiring candidates for a position you know little or nothing about!
1. Do your research. This is the first and most important step to take whenever you’re hiring for a position you know little or nothing about. You should never just post a job and start talking to people before you understand a bit more about the field and the position. By doing your research, you’ll be able to more clearly define the role, write the job description, select suitable candidates and interview them effectively. Here are a few suggestions for where and how you can start researching:
Job Boards – A great place to begin your search is by reviewing major job boards like CareerBuilder, Indeed, and SimplyHired. Large corporations use these job boards all the time. But why is that important to you? Because they have teams of recruiters and tons of resources for researching and hiring top talent. Which means, you can leverage what they’ve already researched and compiled! Look for positions that have been posted which are similar to what you’ll be hiring for soon. Review the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for which they’re hiring. Check out the technical terms they use – and look up any you don’t understand. Be sure to take a look at the required and preferred education, experience, and technical skills, too. All of this information can help you learn more about the field, as well as help you begin crafting your position, job description, and interview questions.
Google It – Yes, I said it. Google. Simply conducting a search about the position for which you’re hiring can help you tremendously. Let’s say you’re hiring someone for coding. Try typing in “how to hire a coder” into Google. When you do, several websites pop right up, from how to hire a programmer to seven steps to hiring a great developer! Now you simply need to do a quick search through the articles to see what fits and makes the most sense. Often, these articles are written by recruiters and companies who’ve gone through the process and can offer you some of their best advice, such as what to look for and what to avoid. You can continue to refine your search to drill down to exactly what you need. (Word of Caution: Just because it’s on the Internet, does not mean it’s true. Make sure to review everything with a skeptical eye. And if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not!)
Talk to professionals in the field. This can be a game changer for sure! If you know someone who works in a similar field as what you’re trying to hire for, then make sure you get on the phone with them and get some insight. Someone with experience in the field can provide you with a great deal of helpful advice when hiring. I’ve had professionals share some of the ways in which candidates make themselves look more experienced and more educated, so I could watch out for those things in the interview process. Bonus: Ask the professional if they’ll participate in the interviewing process with you! They could sit in during the interview with you or conduct a separate phone interview on the technical aspects of the position with the candidate. Just make sure that you offer to return the favor in some manner!
2. Ask the candidate to teach you something. One of my favorite ways to test a candidate’s abilities is to ask them to teach me something during the interview. This should be something relatively simple, but it should always be something you know beforehand. (This is also another great way to leverage the knowledge and experience of the professional mentioned in the paragraph above.) The candidate should be able to confidently and easily guide you through the steps of what you’ve asked them about. If they’re hesitant or unable to talk you through the process or steps, this could be a red flag that they either, a.) don’t know what you’re asking them to explain, or b.) cannot explain/communicate processes or steps effectively to others. In either case, these could lead to trouble down the road.
3. Trust your gut instinct. I only recommend this tip if you’ve done your research! Why? Because hiring is both a science and an art. The science part is doing your research, knowing what’s required for the position, and understanding the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are necessary to successfully perform in the position. The facts are what make your hiring decision fair, equitable, legally sound and defensible. The art part is listening to your instincts after interviewing candidates. Getting a feel for whether or not they’re going to be able to perform the job and fit well within the company culture. Going by instinct alone though can be dangerous, so make sure you know what you’re hiring for before going down this lone path!Confidently make a successful hire even when you don’t know much about a position! #askHRashley Click To Tweet
- Research the position for which you’re hiring.
- Review the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the ideal candidate should have and make note of them.
- Be sure to take a look at the required/preferred education, experience, and technical skills, too.
- Use your research from Step 1 to outline the position, craft the job description and develop your interview questions.
- Determine what you would like for the candidate to teach you during the interview process.
I hope this answer gives you the tools and confidence you need in order to hire successfully for your next unfamiliar position.
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