Once you have decided to hire an internal evaluation staff member, you will have to make a few decisions to find your ideal candidate. Just like any other staff position, you need to find an individual who has the right set of skills, experience, and organizational fit to find long-term success in their position.
When crafting the position’s job description, be sure to specify the most appropriate qualifications given the evaluation task(s) at hand and available salary range. You will need to identify candidates who can work at the level of independence and supervision you are offering, and compensate them appropriately to keep them around. Evaluation skills are often highly desirable so if you find the right person you will need to keep them engaged, passionate about their work, in a space of learning, and provide a level of autonomy to optimize their work. If you don’t, they will likely go somewhere else.
In addition to traditional posting dissemination strategies utilized by your organization, it will likely prove helpful to disseminating this evaluation-specific post to specific organizations/institutions. First, identify local colleges and universities to post on their job boards. Second, identify if your area has a local evaluation consortium. Many states have state level evaluation groups such as the Colorado Evaluation Network. In the United States, the American Evaluation Association also posts jobs to their networks. Finally, ask around to local evaluation organizations to learn more about how they identify potential employees.
When reviewing applications and interviewing, the most important characteristics in a potential candidate include a level of excitement about quality improvement, demonstrated ability to reflect on their experiences and biases, experience with data, and clearly motivated to ask questions. Often, potential program evaluators will have an MBA, MPH, or MSPH, especially as related to public facing programs. If you are hiring an evaluator that will be examining financial outcomes, they will likely need a background in economics and econometrics. It is also possible to hire an evaluator without a masters degree, and in this scenario you will want to closely examine experience and coursework.
During the course of an interview, it can be appropriate to ask the candidates to prepare a potential evaluation plan or data collection approach to a specific situation or program. This presentation will not only allow the hiring committee/staff to assess evaluation knowledge and approaches, but will demonstrate the individual’s presentation skills, which will likely be utilized if hired.
To gauge organizational fit, it is appropriate to organize an interview with programmatic staff such that the hiring committee/staff can witness these interactions. In our experience, the best evaluators do not see their role as more or less important compared to other staff, and if any sense of arrogance is perceived it will not likely lead to success. Potential hires should be confident and collaborative.
Finally, the hiring committee should most certainly consider the applicant’s lived experiences in their hiring decision. If your programmatic content involves mental health, transportation, education, etc., an evaluator will be much better at considering a comprehensive approach to the work if challenges to these thematic areas have impacted their lives. If the recipients of your program are from a specific demographic group, representation from and/or experience with this population will greatly improve the work and should be valued.
If your team is hiring an internal evaluator and would like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out via our contact page or send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to brainstorm with you to write the best job description and attract the best talent.