Hiring a Data Science Team: Hiring Your First Data Scientist


In the first blog post Hiring a Data Science Team: Types of Data Scientists, we discussed types of Data Scientists. Now you’re at the point where you’ve decided that you need your first data scientist, and need to decide who to hire.

Most groups who are hiring their first Data Scientist are in one of two situations:Hiring a Data Science

1. You have data, and we have questions, but we do not know how to answer the questions given our data.
2. You need help understanding our business in a data centric format.

If you’re in group one, look for an Algorithms Expert or Statistician. They’re very good at finding known or novel ways of answering the questions you have at your fingertips.

However, if you’re in group two, a bit more thought needs to go into your selection. Let’s start with three simple yes/no questions:

1. Do you have a good handle on our data flows, storage, and reporting?
2. Do you fully understand the data you’re currently acquiring and have stored in your databases?
3. Do you have a set of well defined questions you want answered?

If you answered “no” to #1, you need a Data Wrangler or Data Miner/Algorithms expert with significant data management experience. This answer overrides both other answers, because if you don’t have a good handle on the raw data, you won’t have a handle on anything downstream.


If you answered yes to #1 and no to #2, you need a Data Miner. The first job of your new Data Scientist will be to come in and validate all of your raw data and base assumptions.

If you answered yes to #1 and #2, but no to #3, you need an experienced Algorithms Expert or Data Miner. Your Data Scientist is there to help you define your data driven path. Their first job is to understand the current status of your analytics systems and make suggestions on where and how to make improvements to the current systems.

Finally, if you answered no to #1 and yes to #2, you are lying to yourself. When you don’t have a good understanding of what data is coming into your system and how it gets there, you can never be sure of the quality of your results.

Hiring a data science team is one of hardest, and most important, tasks for many companies. In the next installment, we’ll talk about Interviewing Basics; what you need to know about interviewing a prospective data scientist.

DesignMind’s Data Science division specializes in data mining, data modeling, and artificial intelligence.