How to hire for positions you are unfamiliar with

Talent Acquisition
JC Cornell

By JC Cornell
September 21, 2022

December 1, 2023

0 min read

As the companies we work for grow and change, we often find ourselves needing to conduct complex interviews for positions we're not familiar with.

Even if you are hiring for a position you know nothing about, there are steps you can take to ensure that you make the right hire first time around. Here’s how you do it.

Talk to a professional

Unless this is the first project engineer your company is hiring, you probably already employ someone in this role. Go and talk to them! Ask for an hour of their time and take them out for coffee or lunch.

Let them know what information you need, and why, so they can be prepared to assist you as much as possible. Be honest, inquisitive, and genuinely interested.

Speak to them in-depth about their role, what is expected of them, their previous experience, and even find out what would have helped them be better prepared. By the end of the conversation, you will have the key data that you need to conduct an interview.

However, if there is no one already in this role in your company, you may have to seek out alternative resources. Ask friends if they know any industry professionals you can speak to. Do research online.

Make contact through your LinkedIn contacts or professional network. If you belong to any professional member groups, inquire within. Once you start looking, you will be surprised how many resources you have available to you.

Once the research is done, you should feel confident in your ability to recruit for that role. Make sure you leave lines of communication open just in case you find you have another question once you’ve begun the interview process.

Interview with an expert

Once you have a solid background on the role, you are ready to start interviewing potential candidates. One way to make this a smooth process is to have a senior employee who already does the role sit in the interview with you.

They will be able to draw on their own experience and ask interview questions you may not have thought of. Take notes on the types of questions they ask and the answers they expect, so you can use them when you interview solo.

If a senior employee is not able to interview with you, get their input on questions you should be asking.

Ask them what important skills would they want a new co-worker to possess. Find out about previous issues they have encountered in their role or department, and the best way these were resolved.

Their advice will help you structure your interview questions and ensure that you properly engage with the candidate.

Hire for experience

While a junior candidate often brings enthusiasm and motivation to a role, they simply don’t offer the years the of experience a more senior candidate can.

Keep in mind what resources you will have available for junior employees you hire. If there is more experienced staff they can lean on, you may be OK. If not, years of experience will win in the long run.

Though it may be tempting to save on overhead by hiring more junior employees, in many situations it can be incredibly detrimental.

If a junior hire stumbles along the way, how will they learn if no one can assist them? Keep in mind the cost of potential errors that could occur with a less experienced employee. These are factors you need to weigh into your decision.

Test their capabilities

Ask for your potential hire to produce a sample of work for you, or ask to view their portfolio.

Ensure they can actually do what they say they can. If you don’t have a firm grasp of the technical aspects of their role, ask a fellow team mate or a line manager to review their work with you.

Complete all references

While references are important for every new hire, reference checks for a role you don’t fully grasp are even more so.

Don’t be afraid to dig deep. Ask specific questions about deliverables, technical ability, areas for improvement, autonomy, and even accuracy. Work out what is important in the role and make sure you investigate how they did previously.

Get informed about who you are looking to hire!

Get assistance from an expert

You don’t have to do this on your own; remember to leverage your external resources. Airswift has the expertise you need to make these types of hires.

As recruiters, we work with our clients to find specialised employees in a wide variety of industries. Not only do we understand what these roles entail, but also what the market looks like.

Let’s work together to make sure that all your needs are met with your next hire.

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