Hiring is frequently seen as an intuitive, intangible process, hard to measure and even harder to improve.
If only startups treated hiring as seriously as product development, such a spontaneous approach would never be accepted.
When hiring, intuition is your biggest enemy: it blurs facts, distorts reality, and helps justify wrong decisions. It can be helpful in repetitive situations, like heart surgery. Hiring is not one of those, though.
Good recruitment is about asking the right questions and analyzing the answers, which should help you name what you have observed during the process. In order to hire the right people, your decisions about hiring should be analytical and rational, not emotional or intuitive. Here is more about the most common biases.
Someone who comes from a great company might not be a great fit for your startup. Don’t assume that everyone who led in the past big teams knows how to do it well. Keep in mind that every organization is different and even though your candidate was successful in a previous role, it is your responsibility to make sure that he or she can deliver in your setup.
It is not enough to understand what kind of experience. So be curious about the experience of your candidate, dig into details, and make sure that it will be useful for your company.
Don’t skip talking about motivation.
Motivation is the best predictor of what you can expect from people and if their motivations are aligned with the needs of your organization.
If you are looking to hire someone for the product team, you probably want to hire someone who is motivated by creating meaningful solutions for the customer. Of course, other factors such as an office and salary are also important, but the willingness to create something useful is a good indicator.
If your company has a flat structure, you hire someone who is motivated by independence and ownership rather than career progression.
If you are looking for someone to work with customers, look for someone motivated by helping others.
Speed up your recruitment process
Best candidates disappear from the market fast (within days). It doesn’t mean that you should rush candidates – especially if they are not actively looking for a job. It might be a good idea to give them a couple days in between to get used to the idea of a change.
Don’t rush with the hiring decision
When you are not sure whether to hire or reject a candidate, take your time and analyze what is behind your doubts. Then think of the tools that might help you decide. Invite the candidate for a (paid) trial day or project in your office or use an online skill test (e.g. psychometric tests). You might also invite the candidate to an additional interview with someone more experienced whose opinion you would trust, let it be a mentor, advisor or an experienced recruiter.
Call for references
A 10-minute open conversation with their ex-manager and/or colleagues can give you lots of insight, cost nothing, and can help you avoid expensive mistakes.
Disclaimer: you owe your candidates full confidentiality and in the majority of countries from a legal standpoint you should get their permission to gather references. There is a simple reason behind this – their current boss or colleagues might not know that he or she is looking for a job and you don’t want to hurt him or her by revealing that fact.