Hiring a Data Scientist

Sun 21 February 2016 by Steven

I recently found myself hiring for the position of data scientist. While I had interviewed candidates at previous jobs, I am now in a considerably smaller group with a greater role in the hiring process. Here are a few of my thoughts on the process:

we are reading this.

We read all the resumes sent to us, and all the cover letters (of which there were not enough). In fact, nearly all the resumes were read by two of us. Perhaps this is not the case at larger firms who receive hundreds of resumes for a job (or is that a myth?), but we were eagerly looking for the right candidate, which meant actively researching candidates. Unfortunately some people treat job applications like lottery tickets: an attempt to net a low probability large payoff with minimal investment. Like the lottery, you probably have to apply scattershot to hundreds of jobs to win.

This kind of lottery-ticket application is easy to spot, as no perceptible effort has been applied. A job application without a cover letter, even a few sentences, feels wrong. It's like sitting at a bar and someone tries to pick you up by showing you their car keys and class ring without talking to you. While the cover letter is nominally your chance to personalize your application, it should be sincere, even at the cost of brevity. Continuing the analogy, it shouldn't sound like a pickup line.

blah blah Ginger blah blah blah Ginger

One of the candidates tailored their resume for us, emboldening those skills which we requested in the job posting: Python blah blah blah, MySQL blah blah. I felt a tiny bit manipulated when I realized they had done this, but it made it so easy to see that they matched the minimum qualifications in …

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