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Navigating Hiring Challenges for Unfamiliar Roles

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Whether you work in a new, growing company, a small family business, or in the human resources department of an established company, at some point you may need to fill a position that you just don't understand. Whether it's a job posting for an engineer, an accountant, or a nuclear physicist, the intricacies and nuances of some job postings can confuse even an experienced HR manager or recruiter.

However, just because you don't understand the role doesn't mean you can't contribute to a successful hire.

So how can you help make the best choice if you have no idea what success in this position looks like? Let's take a closer look.

Make friends with research

What do you do when you don't know how to do something on your computer? Chances are, you'll do one of two things: you'll go online to find a solution, or you'll ask an expert. Maybe you even do both. And all of that counts as research.

If you want to fill a position that you know nothing about, you should proceed in a similar way. You will do some research about the position and support this research with face-to-face interviews with reliable sources (e.g. the supervisor or the department head).

6 Helpful Internal Strategies for Learning How to Hire for a Job You Know Nothing About

The more technical or specialized a position is, the more intricacies you need to know. To familiarize yourself with the position and its intricacies, you should take the following steps:

1.Read the job description

The most important resource you (should) have on hand is the job description (PD). Take a close look at these and highlight the key factors a person needs to have from day one. As with any recruitment, the job description serves as an invaluable benchmark when reviewing incoming resumes.

2.Review of exit interviews

What did the employees say about the position and its tasks? Did they feel like they didn't have enough experience or did they feel overqualified? This step will give you a good idea of what to look for when reviewing resumes and provide you with good fodder for your interview questions.

3.Take time to research

Make yourself as much of an expert in the field as possible. Research the types of certifications required for the position. Search vocabulary online to learn what terms mean and how to pronounce them. This will give you a better idea of what you are hiring someone for. (The fact that you've done your homework can actually give candidates a better impression of your company).

4.Interview the hiring managers

The HR managers are familiar with the PD, but also with the unwritten things you need to know to be successful in the open position. Interview these people for this information. Update the PD if necessary. If necessary, adjust the interview questions as you learn about them.

5.Interview people who hold the job (or similar positions)

People who have held similar positions can tell you important things one needs to know to be successful in that position. They can also provide you with useful questions to ask. And they can tell you what transferable skills will be helpful for the job. If possible, you should take the time to observe these people at work. From this experience, you may be able to ask better questions of your interviewers.

6.Interview the key decision maker

The key decision maker - or anyone above the hiring manager - may not have the same technical expertise as the ideal candidate, but they can give you information about who might be the best fit for the specific department's culture as well as the overall company culture . They are invaluable stakeholders, so you should definitely seek their input.

4 External Resources for Hiring for a Role You Don't Understand

Fortunately, if you don't have internal sources to tap into, you can often find support outside of your company.

Some good places to start are:


Explore specialty groups where people who do what you're looking for meet. Ask for help and advice. Who knows? You might not only find skills and phrases to help you perfect your PD, but also interesting people to interview.

2.Professional associations

These organizations serve primarily to assist their members in developing their careers while promoting the reputation of the field as a whole. As such, they can be an excellent resource. They can help you determine the training and certifications required for specific positions. They can also help you figure out whether to combine positions into one; you may need to fill two different types of positions. Finally, many of them offer industry-specific job boards that can help you reach a larger talent pool.

3.Personal networks

Reach out to other HR professionals and business leaders in your industry. Small business leaders can connect with like-minded people in their area through organizations or forums. Other people working in similar positions at other companies may have filled the same position you are trying to fill. Ask them for information about what you need to know and what you should ask to make a successful hire. They may also have recommendations for potential candidates.

4.Specialized recruiters

While there is a fee to use their services, specialized recruiters know how to find out what you need in a short amount of time, and they have the resources and networks to quickly match you with experienced candidates.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Leverage the information you've gathered internally and externally and create an interview guide that you can refer to as the search progresses.

For the interviews, set questions that are relevant to both the industry and your requirements for the position to be filled. Make sure you know what answers are acceptable. (You may want to keep a list of key phrases to look out for in conversations).

An interview guide will also help you stick to a good script, ensure you're treating all interviewers fairly by asking them similar questions, and give you a consistent, thoughtful picture through which to evaluate each applicant in your pool.

Summary consideration

The most important tool for successful hiring for a role you don't understand is research beforehand, both within your company and on the Internet and through relevant networks.

Through research, you can find out about the position and its role in the company and create a meaningful interview guide. At the same time, your research can help you ensure that key stakeholders (HR, manager, hiring manager, and the key decision maker) are all on the same page. This will make you an expert on the job, able to speak intelligently to candidates so you can help ensure a successful hire.

Master the art of hiring for unfamiliar roles with thorough research and strategic interviewing. Elevate your hiring process with IceHrm.

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