5 Mistakes Interviewers of Statistical Programmers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Hone Your Interview Technique to Hire More Effectively

Interviewing statistical programmers is not part of your daily job. In fact, it’s something you do only rarely when you need to hire. Therefore, your interviewing skills are, at best, rusty. At worst, they are almost non-existent.

If you present well as an interviewer, you are more likely to get the answers you need and hire the best statistical programmers. Avoiding these common interviewer mistakes will help you achieve your hiring goals.

Interview Mistake #1: You Don’t Test If the Candidate Can Do the Job

It’s crucial that your hire has the technical ability to fulfil their responsibilities. Therefore, it is essential that you test their experience.

You should prepare questions that probe the candidate’s knowledge and experience around specific problems that they are likely to encounter should they work for you.

Your job as an interviewer here is to ensure they have the skills required of statistical programmers.

Interview Mistake #2: Not Assessing ‘Flight Risk’

As well as determining a candidate’s ability to perform, you’ll want to make sure that they have what it takes to stay the course. You don’t want to hire someone who may leave after a few weeks.

Therefore, make sure to question the circumstances surrounding why they have left previous roles – never rely solely on explanations given on resumes.

Be prepared to dig a little deeper, as you should when testing ability. If you receive a vague answer, don’t be nervous of asking the candidate to provide a fuller explanation. “The role just wasn’t for me” is not an acceptable answer. You need to learn why the role wasn’t suitable.

Another way to encourage more information is to pause. Let the interviewee’s answers hang for a few seconds. You’ll be surprised how this encourages the candidate to add to an answer they have given.

Interview Mistake #3: The Pressure Interview

Your desire to test how well the candidate can cope with pressure leads to quickfire questions or an ‘aggressive’ interview technique. Perhaps you’ll ask a couple of curve-ball questions, that have little or no relevance to the role of statistical programmers.

The real problem with this approach is that you don’t find out what you really need to, and you can deter the best candidates from accepting an offer should you make one.

Always make sure that you prepare questions before the interview, and make sure that you follow the 80/20 rule: only speak for 20% of the time, and listen to answers 80% of the time. Ask your questions, engage in conversation, and solicit answers and explanations in a relaxed manner.

Interview Mistake #4: Not Testing for Cultural Fit

While you should hire for diversity, it is also important to hire candidates that will fit into your team. Diversity delivers different views and helps to develop innovative problem solving, but if your new hire doesn’t gel with their new colleagues you risk upsetting team dynamics and undermining productivity.

Again, it is important to prepare well before interviewing. Speak to your team to clarify the skills, characteristics, and personality traits you should be hiring for. Introduce candidates to your team, and ask for their feedback. A joint decision is always a better one.

Interview Mistake #5: Not Combating Unconscious Bias

We all have biases, many of which we don’t realize. These unconscious biases can lead us to reject a candidate before testing their ability and personality. To combat this:

  • Always go into an interview with an open mind
  • Ensure that you question all candidates consistently
  • Have a scoring system to make sure you are consistent with your assessment
  • Never interview on your own – always have a second and third opinion in the interview room with you

If you are not an experienced interviewer, or only interview job candidates occasionally, learning to avoid these five interview mistakes will help you be a more effective interviewer.

We’re here to help our clients employ the statistical programmers they need, acting as your staffing partner throughout the hiring process. For more information, and to learn how we help clients source the most talented candidates, contact SimulStat today.