After considering the above points, this is the next question you may be asking. You need to know what type of work you want them to do, of course, but you also need to acknowledge the reality of what work is possible given the data ecosystem they are coming into. If you are not a data leader with an established team of data professionals, this latter question is of critical importance to avoid missteps.
Let’s say you’re looking to hire one or two data professionals to help build some reports for your departments and maybe help you understand why certain things are happening. You might focus on professionals with strong visualization backgrounds and an impressive portfolio of dashboards they’ve created in the past. However, it’s quite possible that if you’ve never had data professionals working with your department before, you might not have data that is in any shape to build reports off. By bringing in someone who specializes in creating reports and dashboards without a lot of data engineering background, you might be setting them up for failure.
If this is going to be an individual that is working in the business rather than on a dedicated data team, you are going to want to hire a generalist, not a specialist. A generalist will have some data engineering skills, some reporting skills, and some analysis skills. If you’re lucky enough to find a “unicorn”, they’ll also have advanced analytic skills such as machine learning or experimentation. By hiring a generalist, you’ll have end-to-end data ability for the level of data work you’ll likely be doing.
You will also want to put an emphasis on having experience in ambiguous spaces, a great deal of initiative, excellent communication skills with non-technical stakeholders and an entrepreneurial attitude.
To be specific, if you’re looking for a generalist and you are in a company with some established data stores, you will likely be looking for someone with the following technical skills, at a minimum:
- SQL (To build datasets from your data environment)
- Tableau, Power BI or another data visualization/report building tool
- Python or R to programmatically perform analyses (advanced Excel will do in a pinch)
A great deal of curiosity is also very important so the more interest they show in the role, your team, the company, and more, the better. Many questions are a good sign.