Best Practices for Interviewing Partnerships Candidates

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin7 Oct, 2021

Partnerships is an incredibly lucrative function right now! We’ve seen an incredible amount of movement among members getting promotions and moving to new organizations. We also see dozens of open roles shared to the community each month and many members have shared that they’re growing their team this year and next.

Partnerships roles have elements of many different functions but aren’t quite like any other role. When hiring for these positions, there’s a lot to consider. Especially in the early stages of building out your team, it’s imperative to make strong hiring choices that reaffirm the value of partnerships to your organization’s leadership. In this article, we’re going to dive into some best practices for interviewing partnerships candidates, including what experience and skills you should be on the lookout for.

Develop a Cross-functional Panel

Your partnerships team will work with all different departments in your organization, including customer success, sales, product, and marketing. As such, you should involve those different departments in your hiring decision.

Develop a cross-functional panel to conduct interviews with your candidate ahead of extending an offer. This panel should include individuals from your sales, product, and marketing teams that typically collaborate with partnerships. Develop a set of competencies each interviewee is looking for — ideally, these will be based on the specific activities involved in working with their department.

Opt for a Video Call When Interviewing Remotely

partnerships interview

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made remote interviews the industry standard. However, many companies have been conducting remote interviews for years. The benefit of this becoming standard practice, is we’ve all gotten the opportunity to get better at using digital tools (and the tools have gotten better to keep up!).

Instead of opting for a phone interview, conduct a video call so you can observe body language. In a partnerships role, the candidate is likely to spend a lot of time interacting with other team members as well as partners. It’s important to observe how the candidate presents themself on a call, including when being asked challenging questions.

Be Transparent About the Expectations of the Role

Will this candidate be responsible for managing a team? Managing partners? Hitting sales quotas? No matter what the expectations of the role are, make them crystal clear to the candidate when hiring. Partnerships is still a murky field with titles that don’t always make the responsibilities obvious.

If this is a role where candidates will be expected to set and achieve their own goals, make it clear. Similarly, highlight which goals you expect them to achieve and the targets that will be laid out for them by the rest of the team.

Dig Into These Soft Skills

Finding the perfect candidate isn’t just about their past functional experience. There are a few soft skills that you’ll want to be on the lookout for:

  • Empathy — Can this candidate connect with others on an emotional level?
  • Relationship building — Can this candidate forge strong relationships with people they’ve never met?
  • Communication — Is this candidate good at communicating what they need, expectations of others, and their goals?
  • Cross-functional collaboration — Can this candidate demonstrate their ability to collaborate effectively with other departments?

Get Tactical

partnerships interview panel

One of our members, Rachel Cameron of Notarize, shared that she likes to get tactical when interviewing candidates. She explained, “Usually the candidate has talked to several other people before talking to me. I always like to ask what specific strategies they will implement in the first 90 days based on what they know we’re looking for. If they are excited and the right fit, their wheels should already be turning about what they would like to accomplish.”

Grow Your Team with the Right Candidates

As you’re establishing a partnerships team, it’s essential to hire the right people to support your efforts. Including different team members in the interview process, using video conferencing tools, and getting tactical are all great strategies for finding strong-fit candidates.
Dig into the hard & soft skills required for different roles in partnerships in our Career Progression Playbook. You can also apply to join Partnership Leaders, where hundreds of professionals go to bolster their partnerships skills, improve as a professional, and connect with others in the industry. Members regularly share open positions and find new roles via the community.

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