From knowing who to hire next, to ethical and legal concerns, to how to interview the best candidates, to how to evaluate them once they're hired - startups have their work cut out for them when it comes to hiring.
If you can afford to hire a trained professional, someone who's skilled in evaluative testing, do so. But if not, you need to learn as much as you can about how to hire the right people. Here's our contribution to your endeavor.
How Does a Startup Know Who to Hire Next?
First it must be said that each startup has different needs. But in general, a startup that's still in pursuit of funding requires a sales-oriented team, whereas a startup with funding sources that have begun to stabilize can focus its team on more specific objectives.
In general, Anthony Cerminaro of AllBusiness says that the classic hiring stage starts with hiring someone to build a prototype. Then a manger is hired to turn the prototype into a product. Then a business manager is hired to coordinate business opportunities for the product. Then a lawyer is hired. Finally, someone is hired to focus on overall business development.
What Kind of People Are You Looking For?
To find the answer to that question, you need to understand the work ethic of each generation. Yesterday Ypulse interviewed the president of LifeCourse, Neil Howe. With a background in history, demographics and economics, Howe offer this advice:
"If you want visionary leadership, if you need to redefine your corporate culture, go to your Boomers. If you need to apply incentives in a creative out-of-the-box way, if you need that cost-cutting, reality shock therapy done to your department, get your X'ers to do it. But if you want a group of people to come together in a team and to design a system and a protocol to get everything working effectively in an organized fashion, if you want to improve the morale of the group, get your Millennials to do it."
Ethical and Legal Requirements
Laws protect us from discrimination based on age, race, gender, religious and political beliefs. These laws are not as easy to follow as you might think. But some of the most common hiring advice given to startups is to treat your job candidates with respect.
As blogger Rands in Repose says: "...a team built on trust and respect is vastly more productive and efficient than the one where managers are distant supervisors and co-workers are 9-to-5 people you occasionally see in meetings. You're not striving to be everyone's pal; that's not the goal. The goal is a set of relationships where there is a mutual belief in each other's reliability, truth, ability, and strengths."
Finding this on a resume and from references, and from face-to-face meetings is not easy. The atmosphere around you is critical.
Essential Ingredients of a Successful Interview
- TechStartups suggests that the ultimate disrespect is to interview someone in public. A quiet office or home is an essential atmosphere to put your potential new star employee at ease.
- If you are using a computer during the interview don't peer out at them from behind it. Set the interview space up so you can easily look at the screen together.
- Don't surprise them with a room full of partners staring them down. If they'll be meeting other partners let them know ahead of time who these people are and how they can learn more about them prior to the interview.
- Do your homework on how to interview. This means no generalized questions, no storytelling or memorized presentations about what your company does. Get detailed and specific right away. Demonstrate to them the type of professional rapport you'll be expecting in the workplace.
Who's Best and How Do You Get Them Started?
Have you ever been told by someone that they don't like the business side but they love the work they do? Don't hire those people! People who are enthusiastic about the business side are far more cognizant of how teamwork and problem solving affects the bottom line. An additional quality is someone called a "Driver."
Online product marketing guru Eben Pagan explains how a Driver doesn't slack off on their work if their boss is too busy to give them a crucial answer. The Driver keeps pursuing the boss rather than using the lack of response as an excuse to slack off.
As Pagan explains in the video below, if you want to know if you hired a Driver give them their first task, tell them who to work with and then let them get the work done with as little supervision as possible. At the end of each day ask them to take five minutes to send you a very brief email describing how their day went. And again, don't supervise them or send them in-depth guidance in a reply - just take a step back and see how they respond to the real world.
Pagan explains that shifting from high expectations to neutral will reveal if you have a real Driver. In the long run, no one is served by keeping an employee around who can't relate to the drive for success that you are putting into your startup.
Do you have more hiring tips. Or do you have horror stories about hiring or being hired by a startup? Let us know in the comments.
Image from Wiki Commons.