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How to Hire for a Role Outside Your Expertise

To the untrained eye, hiring managers have a straightforward job.

Their role is simply to evaluate candidates and determine who is best equipped to succeed in a given role at a company. However, the reality often winds up being far more complicated.

On many startup teams, hiring managers are often high performers who have been newly promoted to a managerial role. They are then tasked with identifying top applicants for positions with which they themselves may have little-to-no experience. This is especially true when it comes to startups that don't have the resources to hire a full-time recruiter or hiring expert. 

Thankfully, hope is not lost. There are effective strategies that will help you hire for a role, even if you've never done it yourself. Let’s review some of the best ways you can be ready the next time you have to hire for a role you don't quite understand. 

Know Your Weaknesses

The first step to succeeding in hiring is admitting that you don't know everything. And that's OK! No one can be an expert in every single role in every single industry. It's completely impossible. Once you admit that, you're already on the path to becoming a better interviewer. Instead of trying to fake your way through an interview for a role you don't understand, it's time to dig in and do some research. You should conduct a detailed analysis to nail down which skills the right applicant will need to succeed in the role. Once you’ve outlined the qualifications and potential impact the position has on your company, you’ll be better prepared to create an effective job description and, in the process, be better able to recognize the best candidate when he or she comes your way.

Don't be Fooled

Being fooled by a "perfect" candidate is one of the major risks for an inexperience hiring manager. If you've never performed the role yourself, it's incredibly difficult to quickly see the difference between a mediocre candidate and an outstanding one. Especially when it comes to technical roles, it's all too easy to be fooled by a polished interviewer who has no idea what they're talking about, but sounds great while they do it. Inexperienced interviewers should beware of these candidates, and use every possible advantage to weed them out and hire the most qualified person. 

Use a Detailed Interview Script

Luckily, there are experts out there who can tell the difference between an OK candidate, and an eminently qualified one. In the Vervoe Library, there are fantastic interview scripts tailored to every imaginable position. In fact, there are experts in nearly every industry who have written and shared interview scripts, offering their personal expertise for interviewing with hiring managers. With their insights into a role, you’ll be much better equipped to formulate an accurate evaluation of a candidate. Interview scripts can help you uncover which candidates from your applicant pool will bring the right combination of experience and skills you need for your team. 

Test Candidates’ Knowledge

Using a tailored interview script written by an expert, you can easily assess each candidate as if you were an expert in the role.  By organizing a simple task or scenario that effectively reveals a candidate’s ability to apply his or her skills to the position at hand, you’ll be able to easily separate who has what it takes to satisfy the requirements of the role and who does not. You could do anything from a short quiz to an in-depth assignment, depending on the role. That should give applicants a clear view of what will be expected of them, should they receive an offer, and effectively establishes a mutual understanding for both candidate and company.

Fill the Role

Ultimately, hiring managers wield a great deal of influence in the long-term prospects of any given company. In many ways, they serve as the gatekeepers, armed with the power to either provide newcomers with the opportunity to become part of a worthwhile enterprise or to deny them the chance to prove their mettle. The end goal is, of course, to bring in individuals with the right mindset that your company needs to grow in the coming years.

With any luck, the above tactics will provide you with the tools you need to fulfill your company’s needs regardless of what position may open up. While the prospect of filling a role without direct experience might seem intimidating, we hope that you will be able to face it with renewed confidence going forward.

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