A Startups Quick Guide to Hiring
Five tips for founders competing for talent in the startup community.
Hiring talented people who can help you grow your business is hard. With more options than ever before out there for creative and highly skilled individuals, startups need to hunker down and build a real strategy for hiring. If they don’t, they risk failing to achieve their broader business and customer objectives. I've put together some simple tips that came from some hard learned lessons in hiring, both from my own personal experience as well as those of the hiring managers that I've supported throughout my career.
1. Share Your Vision
When hiring as a startup you probably don’t have the funds to offer your team members big paychecks or other typical company perks. You’re counting on the fact that these talented people will want to join your startup for little to no money or security simply because they believe in you. This is a tough spot for a candidate to be in, because of the sheer unproven nature of your business and the fact that at the end of the day, we all have lives we need to financially support.
That is why it is crucial that every founder be able to articulate a compellingly vision for the company as well as the opportunity that lies ahead for the individual. By helping candidates to understand and ultimately buy in to the mission you are driving, you will help your top choices to soldifiy their decisions to make that leap of faith to join your team.
2. Test Real World Skills
Story tellers are great. So are good resume writers. But it is easy for a founder to get caught up in what appears to be good on paper. During the interview process it’s important to get solid insight into what tangible skills the candidate actually possesses, as well as what the level of those skills are in order to understand if they are really the right fit for the role.
Depending on the position and whether or not you know them from a previous work relationship, it’s usually a good idea to quickly test their skill sets during the interview process or by giving a quick assignment to send in.
Try something simple to demonstrate the level of expertise — i.e. a simple task on the development side or a mock-up communication on the marketing side. These simple tests will help you level-set skills and at the same time weed out those who buffered their resume.
3. Look for Versatility
There is a personality test out there that classifies you in one of five work styles (i.e. Creator, Analyzer, Flexor, etc).
Flexors make up only about 5% of the general population. I’m a flexor — and these are the candidates for broader based roles that you want to go after. Being versatile means that the candidate can jump in as needed regardless of the task and add value.
When you are first starting out, this quality is important for your team as it will help you to excel where other small teams cannot.
4. Ask Better Questions
Don’t ask random shit in the interview including brainteasers that mean absolutely nothing— please! Performance based interviewing questions like the ones listed here will help you to understand your candidates level of experience in resolving certain situations, if they are able to think on their feet and how they typically behave in their work environment.
Culturally, if you want to know what passions they have outside of work — simply ask “If you were to start a business tomorrow — what would it be?” This is often an instant connection point and brings the interview to a new personal level.
5. Be Swift
High growth companies know that they must act fast when quality talent is discovered. Similar to selling to customers, once you've identified a customer you want — you go after them hard. Same should be true in hiring. For the startup community, this especially holds true, because when asking a potential hire to take that leap of faith to join your company, acting with confidence, determination and speed sends a powerful message to candidates on your ability to lead the company.
What interviewing tactics have worked for you?