You’re sitting at home and decide to watch a movie. You pull up Netflix and scroll through what feels like an endless array of movies before stumbling upon a title you remember someone in your circle of friends talking about in glowing terms. But you’re not quite sold — yet.
You review the cast and start to feel better. It’s loaded with actors and actresses you really respect. It’s even starring that one person with the dreamy eyes who makes you go weak in the knees. You check the reviews and it’s earned high marks from both critics and fans. It even won a few big-name awards. By all accounts, you should enjoy every minute of this movie. So you sit back, relax, and start the show.
Two hours later, you’re hugely disappointed. This movie, with its remarkable cast, great reviews, critical respect, and a few major awards, failed to meet your expectations. It’s not that the movie was bad, it just wasn’t right. At least not for you.
Hiring an implementation specialist is no different.
I admit, it sounds counterintuitive, but often the best candidate on paper isn’t always the best fit for your company. After several years of hiring for our own SaaS clients who outsourced some or all of their customer success functions to Core10, we found that these 10 best practices led to successful hires and happy implementation teams.
Read on for tips on how to take what we’ve learned through hundreds of interviews and numerous hires, and apply it to your implementation team hiring process.
1. Nail the software implementation specialist job description.
Seriously. You need to nail it. And it’s non-negotiable. Your job description needs to be written specifically for the eyes and ears of a software implementation specialist. Skip the corporate generalities that are so common these days and instead, go all in on using niche jargon, slang, and code words — things only an implementation specialist would understand. Not only does this ensure you’re attracting the right candidate, it also works to level-set employee expectations.
2. Set up a phone screen with a trained HR partner.
Zoom would also work well in this situation. Either way, pre-screens are an effective way to weed through the candidates who aren’t right for the implementation specialist position. This is where the team lead will save an immense amount of time in wasted one-on-one interviews.
3. Send the stars on to the implementation team leader.
You’ve sifted through the stack of résumés, held your critical pre-screen phone call or Zoom chat, and identified a strong handful of candidates you believe would be the perfect fit for your team and company’s culture. Now’s the time to involve the implementation team leader to get their thoughts and feedback. This fosters a sense of ownership from the team lead and gets them involved in the hiring process. They’ll also be apt to know the smaller details of what makes the ideal candidate and the type of person you’ll want on the front lines.
4. Organize an interview panel.
The panel should consist of your team lead, software implementation team members, and other implementation specialists. Fight the urge to be overly restrictive here in order to “get down to business.” You’re not hiring robots — you’re hiring humans, and humans have an innate desire for connections. Invite chit-chat; let your team lead talk about her weekend; allow a specialist to wax poetic about his son’s baseball game. This is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for how the candidate meshes with potential co-workers.
Then, break everyone up into two groups to perform two 45-minute interviews for each candidate. The duration here is important. 30 minutes will always feel too quick, while 60 minutes can feel too long. This is by no means scientific, but from our experience interviewing hundreds of candidates, 45 minutes seems like the sweet spot.
5. Test their skills.
Now that you have a better idea for who your right-fit candidates are, it’s time to test their skills to ensure they possess the necessary traits and aptitude to fulfill their responsibilities. Skills assessments could include:
- Excel test: you need a candidate who does more than just dabble in spreadsheets — you need an Excel ninja who creates formulas in her sleep and pivot tables while drinking her morning cup of joe.
- HTML and CSS test: a sharp candidate should be able to not only create a sleek user interface using HTML but also be able to style it like a champ with CSS.
- Project management test: nothing leads to more problems with client relations than missed deadlines. Ensure your candidate can plan, execute, track, and complete projects within a specified time frame.
6. Rank the candidates.
During the interview, each panelist asks questions specifically designed for the implementation specialist position and scores the candidate’s responses on a scale of 1-5. Each panelist should provide short notes about their scores. This will lead to great conversation later in the process as your team reconvenes to examine the scores. Keep in mind, each panelist brings his or her own life and workplace experiences into the interview, which provides a diverse collection of lenses through which the candidate will be judged. This is how you’ll uncover the smaller behavioral nuances and details of a candidate’s potential.
7. Schedule a scoring review.
After all of the interviews are complete, the panel reconvenes and a group assessment for each candidate is performed. All totals are calculated, notes are reviewed, discussion is had, and a consensus is made on whether they’re a right-fit candidate.
8. Choose your right-fit candidates.
Once the scores are tabulated, you’ll have your list of right-fit candidates. Next, the implementation lead should coordinate the next round of interviews.
9. Make an offer!
Social distancing rules aside, this is the point where high-fives, fist bumps, and handshakes are exchanged because the final best-fit candidate has been identified and agreed upon by all involved. Extend an offer and set up training to get the implementation specialist up to speed and trained on the technical aspect of the role.
10. Your good-fit candidate fits right in.
This is where the rubber meets the road. The new hire is onboarded with their team and utilizes training of the product and processes for implementation.
In this day and age, it’s more important than ever to focus less on tangibles like résumé, experience, certifications, etc., and more on intangibles like culture fit, disposition, and working style. After all, hiring the right-fit candidate for your implementation specialist position will save you from the chaos that comes from a backlog of customers, perpetually angry sales team, and missed revenue opportunities because no one is getting onboarded.
Now that you know the process, learn more about the exact skill set that your next software implementation specialist should possess. Download our Implementation Specialist Skill Set Checklist!