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September GBEN Roundtable Summary: Hiring for an Evaluation Position

09/26/2019 12:51 PM | Anonymous

On September 10, 2019, Bryan Hall, Senior Director, Evaluation at BellXcel, discussed his experience hiring evaluation professionals at his organization, building a three-person evaluation department, and the process and challenges he encountered along the way.   Over 20 GBEN members participated in-person or virtually. 

Mr. Hall discussed the pre-hiring process and what hiring managers should consider before making a job posting public, the hiring process and what to consider when creating a job posting, the applicant and resume review process, and the key characteristics of strong evaluation professionals.    Below are a few key summary points from Bryan’s presentation.

The Hiring Process Begins Long Before a Job Posting is Public

The pre-hiring process is critical, and can make or break a hiring initiative.  Before developing and making public a job posting, it’s important to consider a host of factors. 

  • Hiring managers should identify the key processes and stakeholders that will be part of the entire hiring initiative.  For example, what role will your organization’s Human Resources department plan in the hiring process?  Who will participate in the interview process and what scheduling accommodations will be needed?
  • It’s important to know your full budget for hiring, beyond (but including) the salary range for the position.  Do you have budget to fly a candidate in for an interview?  Will you have budget to train staff once hired?
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of time needed to complete the hiring process.  Some hiring processes can take upwards of a year to complete.  The interview process alone can sometimes take two-to-three months.  Bryan noted that a recent hiring process for an Evaluation Manager position took 6-8 months before leading to a hire. 
  • Think seriously about the workload of the position you are hiring for.  What will their day-to-day, month-to-month work life look like?  It’s important to consider whether you even need a full-time employee at all or if part-time, seasonal, temporary, or consultant staff would be a better fit for your needs.

The job posting is important for candidates and the hiring manager

Once you are ready to formally start the hiring process, it’s important to develop a job posting that you will make public to interested candidates.   Similar to the pre-hiring process, it’s important that the job posting strongly reflect your organization’s needs.  A poorly designed job posting can delay your hiring process or attract candidates that may not be the best fit for your needs.  A few considerations for the job posting:

  • The job posting is not the same as the job description you hand a new employee once they start.  Avoid making a job posting an exhaustive list of responsibilities, but instead try to capture the high level job responsibilities and requirements you are looking for.
  • A job posting should include key information that allows an interested candidate to decide if they are a good fit for the job.  Key items to include are:  brief position description, key responsibilities and expectations, key hiring attributes and requirements, a brief description of your organization and work, brief summary of benefits, the process to apply, and salary range (ideally, but not always possible).
  • Seriously consider what attributes a strong candidate must have in order to be considered for the position, and what are simply nice to have.   Most employees learn on the job and receive significant training once they start.  Consider which attributes are flexible and which are non-negotiable for a candidate.
  • Consider the power of transferable and general skill domains, versus hiring for a specific skill set.  For example, if your organization uses Salesforce as a data system, you don’t necessarily need to hire a candidate with Salesforce experience.  Instead, consider – and advertise for in the job posting - a candidate with strong “technology proficiency” in other systems who can be trained on how to use Salesforce.  
  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of great.  There is no such thing as a perfect candidate.  Of the “must haves” and “nice to have” attributes in your job posting, consider 3-5 that are most important to you, and which others you can be flexible on. 

There are many online resources for job postings

Your job posting should ideally be hosted on your company’s website and/or LinkedIn account.  In addition, the evaluation world has a few key job websites for job postings including the American Evaluation Association (AEA) website and evaluationjobs.org.  In addition, consider general job websites like LinkedIn, indeed.com, and idealist.org (for non-profits).  Job sites like Monster and Career Builder may not be that useful for evaluation positions.  Lastly, consider discipline-specific professional associations, as most offer the ability to post job openings.  For example, if you work in the field of public health, consider listing the job through the American Public Health Association (APHA) website. 

Interview Questions Should Fill in the Gaps of the Resume

A resume and cover letter (if provided) should tell you 80-90% about a candidate.  The purpose of the interview is to fill in the rest.  Therefore, focus your interview on attributes about the candidate that may not be expressed via the resume such as passion for the work, soft skills, and problem-solving skills.  Example questions that Bryan has used in past interviews include:

  • Why are you interested in this position?  Why did you apply?
  • Tell me about a recent job experience and relevance to this job?
  • A key job responsibility is ____.  Tell me about a time you did ____ ?  Are you comfortable/do you enjoy doing ______ ?
  • Tell me about your work personality?  How do you work with others and/or independently?  What are your needs as an employee?
  • Tell me about a time you faced a conflict/challenge/problem – how did you approach and resolve it?

Mr. Hall’s full presentation slides can be found here (members only). 

Greater Boston Evaluation Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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