A big difference between startups and established businesses is the impact of hiring mistakes. In established businesses, there are profit streams and on-going activities that can mask a terrible hire. In a startup, the close, interdependent environment magnifies hiring mistakes. When startups need to hire it is often at a critical time- the business needs to grow yet the essential processes are unclear, and the demands for performance are intense. This pressure can lead to making bad decisions when adding new team members. Here are the top hiring mistakes and how to avoid them:
Not Hiring Specialists
For a startup, hiring is the way to mix skills and personalities into the organization’s vision; it fills-out the human component of the company mission. Small staffs amplify hiring errors, and one failure can drag the group down quickly. An important part of avoiding mistakes is to remember the purpose: building a complementary team. A common error is hiring someone who can perform a number of tasks, the so-called jack-of-all-trades. Hire people who specialize in different areas so that they can complement each other.
Not Having a Detailed Job Description
The job description is as important for you as it is for prospective candidates. A detailed job description is a guide for you to refer to when evaluating potential candidates based on their work experience and capabilities. Include all responsibilities, required skills, work hours, day-to-day tasks, and how the role will help the startup reach its goals. If the startup is in a rapid growth stage, include that as well, you want candidates to know what they are getting themselves into. Have the job description with you at the interviews, and make sure to tailor your questions around the specific qualities that you’re looking for to fill the position.
Forgetting About Startup Culture
Not everyone is cutout to work in a startup environment. The startup world is hectic, constantly changing and requires people to adapt quickly. Some people thrive in this environment while others would be lost and ineffective. A good candidate can handle long hours, a hectic schedule, tight deadlines, and is comfortable in a flexible environment. Ideally, you’ll be hiring someone who’s worked at a startup before. If not, ask questions about their past that would show that they are able to survive in a startup. Ask about projects they’ve worked on outside of work, or find out if they’ve tried starting their own business in the past. If an interviewee firmly believes that the work day ends at 5pm, move to the next one.
Rushing the Hiring Process
The startup is growing quickly, and you’re rushing to hire employees to fill open positions. This is a hectic time for every startup, but don’t rush the hiring process. Don’t hire someone you just met at a tech convention or the first person who sends in a resume. Take the time to evaluate multiple candidates that have the experience and attitude that will fit with the team. Stick to this simple rule: interview at least 3 candidates for each positionl. In addition to this, try having at least one other person from your team interview the candidates. It’s important that you get the perspective of others who potentially will be working with the new candidate, and that they would feel comfortable working with them.