Hiring someone with different skills

Tido (VP Engineering at Segment)had to hire a Head of Security when he didn’t have knowledge about the requirements for the job.

Problem

Some years ago we decided to build a new department in my company that would tackle all of our security issues. The first thing we had to do was to recruit a Head of Security, who would then take care of the other hires. Since we didn’t have this kind of expertise yet, it made the process much harder. How could we assess the skills of the candidates?

First, we had to determine what this person would work on and had to determine the scope of the job. We forced ourselves to be honest when thinking about this role and the key attributes that the person should have. We determined that we were looking for someone that could design a roadmap for the coming months and someone that would be willing to explain to us what they do and why.

Actions taken

With the advice of a friend of mine who had already recruited engineers for similar roles, I handpicked some candidates. During interviews, I asked them to work on the actual project they would have if they were coming in the company, which was the roadmap. They had to work on it for around five hours and then had to pitch it to me. I asked several questions, challenged them on some elements, and also asked them to tell me about their careers and their past experience in building a team and designing a roadmap.

Lessons learned

A very good way to evaluate these candidates was to make them work on a project that would actually take place. It really helped us determine whether we would be at ease with working with them or not in terms of their fit, the methods they used, and their attitude, skills, and vision.


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