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I haven't found a similar question, but if there is one, my apologies.

Let's say I need to interview someone for a role which is not in my area of expertise (not even in the same industry), and there's nobody else in the company who knows about that topic well enough. How should I approach the interviewing process?

For example, I'm in a small startup with a few Software Engineers and we need to hire someone to take care of Sales or Marketing. Obviously, our knowledge of those industries is very limited, and definitely not enough to assess if a candidate is good enough from the technical point of view.

  • Is there some way to outsource the "technical" part of the interview to another company ? – Radu Murzea Jun 29 '16 at 14:28
  • @RaduMurzea there might be, yes, but usually in startups the budget is quite tight. However, cheap is expensive :) – Charmander Jun 29 '16 at 14:42
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Let's say I need to interview someone for a role which is not in my area of expertise (not even in the same industry), and there's nobody else in the company who knows about that topic well enough. How should I approach the interviewing process?

That happens a lot in small startups.

A group of folks with similar experience get together and start a company. But often, none of them has ever started a company before, and lack the experience necessary to hire for all the roles.

The approach that many startups use is to rely on board members or to bring in consultants to help get things launched. Look through your personal networks for people who have done this sort of hiring before, or who know people who have helped a startup do this.

You might also want to check out https://startups.stackexchange.com/

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In these cases you have a couple of options.

Look for someone with solid proven experience and good references and hope they are what they seem. Selling things and themselves is a salespersons forte. Someone whose expertise is personally known is another way.

Get someone in to help with the interviews. I have done this many times for clients when they need to interview technicians, I'll come in with HR and take the technical part of the interviews, and then give a report and recommendation afterwards. Then we'll all sit down and discuss which candidate looks best from all perspectives.

My preference would be to get a subject matter expert in for the interviews, I have seen a few disasters where someone has bluffed their way into a job they're just not suitable for. Any interviewing is risky, so it's best to minimise that whenever possible.

  • That's the good thing about hiring a sales person: The interview always checks if the person can sell themselves. A graphics designer who can sell himself or herself isn't necessarily a good graphics designer. A salesperson who can sell himself or herself has proved that he or she is a good salesperson. – gnasher729 Jun 29 '16 at 14:26
  • @gnasher729 Unfortunately they can also be selling you a product that's worth a lot less than they make out and has several design flaws that they're not mentioning. – Kilisi Jun 29 '16 at 20:45
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Reach out to your local chamber of commerce and see if they have anyone with expertise that may be able to help you. Also, if you have anyone in your extended network who could come by and do interviews for you, you may want to take that approach.

Finally, there are HR companies who will interview candidates for you

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