How to Become a Data Scientist at Hershey
By Sarah Grant | December 16, 2015

Cheat Sheet lifts the veil on the hiring process for some of the most sought-after jobs. This week, your personality matters—but not as much as your big data chops—if you want a job helping Hershey use sales trends to guide business decisions.
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Interview Cheat Sheet #17
The Job
  • The Hershey Company
  • Position:
  • Principal data scientist
  • Hiring Manager
  • Amit Philip
  • Senior director, business decision support
  • Salary:
  • $130,000 – $175,000
  • Description:
  • Work alongside Hershey’s senior executives, using data to identify sales trends that inform business decisions and help find commercial opportunities.
  • Qualifications:
  • A STEM Master’s degree, small and large-scale data mining experience, and a background in forecasting and sentiment analysis.

The Method

First Round:

30-minute phone conversation with the senior recruiter, in which you're expected to show off your background in statistics and large data-set modeling abilities.

Second Round:

45-minute video interview with the hiring manager, to gauge personality and presentation skills—and, in some cases, willingness to move to Hershey, Pa.

Third Round:

Candidates are flown to Hershey for multiple interviews. You will be given one or two case questions—for example, pointing to an explanation, in a data set, for why sales in a certain category are declining—and asked to prepare a presentation on the findings that includes an actionable recommendation. Or you might get handed a broader challenge, such as how to increase gum sales.

The Score:

A four-person evaluation team rates the candidate over a lunch meeting and hashes out everyone's opinions, with the hiring manager getting the final say. Between two strong candidates, the job will go to the one with more experience in sentiment analysis.

How to Ace It

Do research the company. “I definitely make a note if someone has referenced their knowledge of Hershey. I look at it as an extra.”

Do know how to mine social media for information. “We want to understand how people view and consume our products as soon as possible. Is it trending positive or negative, and why?”

Do speak authoritatively. “This person has to have the gravitas to work with the C-suite. If you're scared of big data, it's a problem.”

Don’t tiptoe around bad news in the case study. “Presenting data is like giving a health check every two months. If sales are down, you need to communicate why that is to our executives.”

Don’t get too stuck in your own area. “Forecasting is a major part of this role, and we need someone to keep an eye out for smart, new commercial opportunities.”

Don’t second-guess yourself. “You have to have confidence in your ability to make connections, because executives are going to challenge your recommendations. You'll be expected to back them up.”