Hiring people for a Pakistani startup? Lookout for these red flags.

Often people argue that getting investment is the toughest part of working in a startup. It really is, but not the only one. I recently joined LEMNation as a Chief Technology Officer. Our team has been taking dozens of interviews every week, and it has been a disappointing experience so far. Mainly because there is an army of graduates with almost zero experience, filled with negative energy, and looking for stable 9–5 jobs. And once you post some job openings, get ready for some epic revelations.

Some don’t read job descriptions

Guess what! You asked for Java engineers, while tons of C# developers applied. Tough luck.

Some apply for senior positions with minimal experience

Overflowing self-confidence with no backing evidence makes it awkward during interviews.

Some don’t answer questions directly

When the interviewer asks you to specify a number, or say something in an objective manner, candidates should provide a direct response.

When the interviewer starts a question with “How much..” or “When did…”, the candidate should state an objective answer in a single sentence.

There’s nothing more annoying than a candidate who reads an essay when a short answer is required.

Some lie and/or exaggerate

And it’s surprisingly easy to judge a candidate’s statement for an experienced or technical interviewer. There’s a huge difference between `1 year experience`, and `2 years experience`. And that difference becomes obvious through candidates’ body language.

Some delay

It’s okay to delay the interview once, or even twice, if the candidate has a legitimate reason. And for the record: “I overslept.” is not a legit excuse.

Some don’t explain their conditions

We interviewed some candidates who came from other cities (like… from Gujranwala, Wah, and Peshawar). Their interviews could’ve been taken through Skype if they had explained their condition.

Some state their Matriculation/FSc marks

This waste of space on resume can be replaced by a list of achievements.

Some brag about their GPA

A good idea when you’re applying for a government job. But if you’re going for a target oriented company, it’s a clear red flag.

Some studied too hard

Plain nerds (with zero extracurricular experience) rarely ever exceed in their career (save for ol’ Bill Gates). Startups hunt for people who spent their college mingling with exciting stuff, exploring new opportunities, utilizing their energy in multiple fields, and testing themselves.

Volunteering for organizations = Big Yes!

Some stated their biggest achievement from college days

I’ve met candidates claiming that their most significant accomplishment was something along the lines of “Graduating from FAST”, “Getting into IBA”, or “Completing my final year project”. This is just plain ridiculous if the person is applying for an mid-senior level position.

Some didn’t have a portfolio

It’s almost impossible to judge a person without his portfolio. And if you don’t have one: just screenshot your best work, upload it on Google Drive, and share it’s link with the potential employer.

Most of them posted an out-dated CV

Adding these things in a CV while applying for a startup is absolutely criminal:

  1. Father’s name
  3. Domicile
  4. Irrelevant experience
  5. Office skills
  6. References

And there are a few things that should always be present in a CV:

  1. Achievements (uber importance)
  2. Technical skills
  3. Relevant experiences

And… Some of the CVs were just plain boring

It’s like roaming in an auto market, looking for the best car. Sure the HP, acceleration, and specs matter; but the first thing that catches the eye is design.

End note

During our interviews, we came across some exceptional talent with incredible portfolios, and there’s no shortage of such people in Pakistan. But shortlisting these guys among a clutter of 100s of basic CVs is literally rocket-science.