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How to hire the best for your Startup

Interview

Photo by GLindsay65

InterviewTalk to your candidate and do an evaluation.

I came across an old but very well written, relevant article — How to hire the best people you’ve ever worked with. The articles talks about two key points (i) Criteria for hiring and (ii) the Process of hiring, and if necessary the aftermath of making a mistake.

CRITERIA

Drive

  • Self-motivated people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them.
  • People who will push and push and push and push and push until they succeed.
  • Drive is independent of educational experience, grade point averages, and socioeconomic background, it is even independent of prior career success.
  • Driven people don’t tend to stay long at places where they can’t succeed, and just because they haven’t succeeded in the wrong companies doesn’t mean they won’t succeed at your company.

Curiosity

  • Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft.
  • They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it… immerse themselves in it, continuously.
  • Anyone who isn’t curious doesn’t love what they do.

Ethics

  • Watch for any whiff of less than stellar ethics in any candidate’s background or references.
  • Unethical people are unethical by nature, and the odds of a metaphorical jailhouse conversion are quite low.
  • Pick a topic you know intimately and ask the candidate increasingly esoteric questions until they don’t know the answer. (They’ll either say they don’t know, or they’ll try to bullshit you. If they bullshit you during the hiring process, they’ll bullshit you once they’re onboard.)

PROCESS

  • Have a written Hiring Process.
  • Do Basic to Medium Skill Tests.
    • It’s amazing how many people come in and interview for jobs where their resume says they’re qualified, but ask them basic questions about how to do things in their domain, and they flail.
    • A lot of people come in and interview for programming jobs who, at their core, can’t program.
  • Write down Interview Questions beforehand.
  • Pay attention to the little things during the interview process.
    • Person never laughs? Probably hard to get along with.
    • Person constantly interrupts? Egomaniac, run for the hills.
    • Person claims to be good friends with someone you know but then doesn’t know what the friend is currently doing? Bullshitter.
    • Person gives nonlinear answers to simple questions? Complete disorganized and undisciplined on the job.
    • Person drones on and on? Get ready for hell.
  • Do Reference Calls and find out more about your candidate.
    • Google them.
    • Look for them on MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, et al.
  • Fix your mistakes but take not too fast.
    • Most startups are undisciplined at fixing hiring mistakes — i.e., firing people who aren’t working out.
    • While you’re going to hate firing someone, you’re going to feel way better after the fact than you can currently imagine.
    • The great people on your team will be happy that you’ve done it — they knew the person wasn’t working out, and they want to work with other great people, and so they’ll be happy that you’ve done the right thing and kept the average high.
    • Your great people are watching to see how you fire people, and if you do it too fast you’ll be viewed as arbitrary and capricious. So, take it a bit slow and do it with caution.
    • You’re usually doing the person you’re firing a favor — you’re releasing them from a role where they aren’t going to succeed or get promoted or be valued, and you’re giving them the opportunity to find a better role in a different company where they very well might be an incredible star.
    • One of the good things about our industry is that there are frequently lots of new jobs being created and so you’re almost never pushing someone out onto the street — so don’t feel that you’re dooming their families to the poorhouse, because you aren’t.

The article ends by suggesting you to value the hell out of the great people you do have on your team.

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