Must Have Skills to Look for When Hiring a Data Scientist

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Finding high-quality Data Scientists isn’t easy, especially with unemployment among these skilled professionals being particularly low. That does not mean you shouldn’t hold out for a person with the experience and education you are looking for. Selecting a less than ideal candidate can have many ramifications – including not allowing you to achieve the big picture results you had hoped for.

Companies often focus on specific key areas, such as the applicant’s coding capabilities or understanding of statistics. But there are other skills that should be given just as much attention, if not more. Before you begin your next search, here are the must-have skills to look for when hiring a Data Scientist.

Communication Skills

One of the primary responsibilities of a Data Scientist is gathering information and communicating their findings to other members of the team or a variety of stakeholders. Being able to share complex details with people who may not be as tech-savvy is often an art form, making communication skills paramount to their success.

To assess a candidate’s communication skills, have them give a presentation that covers some of their recent work as part of the interview, preferably one that features a panel. This will show how they discuss potentially complex topics and if they can make the details understood to those who may not be familiar with the subject matter, providing you with a strong indication of their ability to communicate.


Few Data Scientists work in a bubble. Typically, they are part of a larger team and work with others toward common goals. Being able to work as part of a group is vital to the completion of many tasks, especially if the position will be involved with large projects.

Generally, you can assess a person’s level of competency in this area by having them provide examples of team experiences they’ve had in the past. You should also ask their professional references about their capabilities in this area, allowing you to get a better picture of what the job seeker has to offer.

Professional Judgment

While Data Science is largely seen as a measured field, the need to make subjective decisions is very high. Frequently, Data Scientists have to select with data points to include in various activities as well as assess business struggles to determine what data best addresses the issue at hand. This often involves analyzing their own choices and any potential approaches to see what changes could lead to a better outcome, making professional judgment an important attribute.

You can often learn about a candidate’s thought processes by identifying a problem and having them discuss how they would approach the issue. This allows you to witness how they use their professional judgment and provides you with powerful insights regarding their workplace mindset.

If you are looking for a data scientist to join your company, the team at Solving IT can connect you with top talent in the field. Contact us to see how our services can make your search more efficient than ever.