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How to Hire a Great Researcher: Interview with CEO of Flexjobs

In Sourcing — by Recruiterbox

We had a chance to talk to Sara Sutton Fell , CEO of FlexJobs , the leading site for finding telecommuting, part-time and other flexible job opportunities. She shared her experience and tips on Hiring a Researcher :

1. Where did you begin looking for a Researcher? Job Board listings, Private Referrals, Specific forums, Recruiters?

Clearly, I’m biased, but the most effective resource I’ve used in looking for a Researcher is FlexJobs – and for comparison’s sake, I have tried Craigslist, freelance specific sites, and big job boards. Our Researcher roles can be done from anywhere and with flexible hours, and we have many other companies that have used us for similar Researcher jobs and had great success. Because FlexJobs is a subscription site, applicants that come from FlexJobs tend to be all the more committed to finding a job, especially those that offer some kind of work flexibility.

2. How important is the job description? What should be communicated about the job and/or company as its the first hook?

The job description is incredibly important – not only does it lay the groundwork to find the person that best matches requirements for the job, but it also is your control over how many (or few) applications you get. Most of us are hoping to find the best candidates in the shortest amount of time, without having to sort through piles of unqualified applications. Having said that, creating a clear, specific, detailed job description is a critical first step.

(1) You should include enough about your company so the candidate understands what industry they’ll be in and the type of corporate culture you have; (2) Be detailed about the skills and requirements that are absolutely required, and then feel free to have a short list of “nice to haves” that would make the candidate even more ideal; (3) Instruct applicants to include a paragraph with their application on why they want THIS job and with THIS company. In my experience, that one will help you immensely in sorting through who to interview. Finally, (4) let candidates know that if they don’t provide all of the requested info, or have all of the requested skills, that they’ll be put in the “unqualified” pile immediately. I make a note that this is out of respect for their time and mine.

3. For any prospects, how did you go about the interview process? How do you vet/filter ideal candidates? Is it just one conversation/ standard process?

To get a feel for a person who is applying to be a researcher’s commitment to the job they are applying for, I have them do a work exercise. This gives candidates a taste for what the job will be like and gives me an indication if they are up for the task. I have received some half-hearted responses which shows the applicant isn’t as enthusiastic about the prospect as other candidates and allows me to stay focused on those more eager to do the job and, ultimately, those that are a stronger fit. It also helps me see whether a candidate has a natural proclivity towards the research, or not.

4. What do you look for in this person? What are the specific examples/ things that have worked for you?

First and foremost I try to find out if they are the type of person who truly enjoys research, in this case, that they enjoy finding the “needle in the haystack.” Beyond that, I look for someone who values responsibility, is detail-oriented, and embraces proactive communication. I want to make sure that the candidate will fit in to our corporate culture, so we also look for people who are friendly, have good business ethics, and enjoy working from home with flexible hours. We’ve had extremely low turnover, so this equation seems to be working very well for us!

5. What are the mistakes you made while hiring this or other people?

All told in my career, I’ve been fortunate to not have any big “hiring regrets.” I have had a few people not work out a given role for the long-term, however, and in those cases it’s typically been because they ultimately didn’t fit with our corporate culture rather than they weren’t capable to do the job.

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