A lot of time, money, effort and productivity goes into hiring great people for a startup. But inevitably, not every hire your company makes will work out. Some people just don’t work out from the start, and others fade in the longer term. When hiring, take measures to prevent bad hires and have solutions ready for when they happen.
Never Stop Perfecting Your Hiring Process and Strategy
Above all, it is important to never stop perfecting your interviewing, hiring and retention strategies. Startups must constantly evaluate and adjust their interviewing and hiring processes, and learn from experience how they find, qualify and identify their best hires. Because people are not a quantifiable entity, this can be especially difficult. Hiring is one of the most challenging and highest priorities companies face, so no doubt mistakes will be made along the way. But experience, repetition testing, and adaptation will lead to better results over time.
Get Multiple Opinions and Perspectives
We are naturally drawn to people like ourselves who share our views, experiences, values and belief systems, all of which are important. They are important for hiring the right fit, but they are also biases that come into play when making hiring decisions. Having more than one perspective is the best way to see through these blind spots. Get as many people as is practical involved in the hiring process to gain a 360 degree perspective of who is being interviewed. No candidate is perfect by any means, but even if a great candidate comes through your door, your team should know as much about their flaws and shortcomings as possible.
Give Them Projects Before You Hire
Nothing is more telling than inserting a candidate into the actual work situation. Many companies have taken to serving up projects to candidates, and some even go so far as to throw them on the team for a few days to see how things go. Although this short timeframe does not paint a complete picture of your candidates, at the very least it can give you a glimpse of who you might be hiring, how they fit the team’s culture, and what to expect when on-boarding them.
Give Them A Contract Trial Before Hiring Full Time
Similar to handing candidates a project before hiring, many companies opt to bring on great candidates as contractors for a limited period of time, giving them the opportunity to be thrown into the actual mix, get their hands dirty and provide a real world view of the hire to both the company and the candidate. Although not all candidates take kindly to this approach, many see an equal opportunity to determine whether they like the company as well. In the end, if either party is dissatisfied with the arrangement, the relationship ends, the company has no obligation and the candidate has a short contract gig to show for it.
Hire With An Exit Strategy Built In
With the evolving trend of talent moving from company to company after 2 or 3 years, some forward thinking organizations have begun hiring with this trend in mind. Rather than bringing a candidate on and hoping for the best, companies are hiring for a fixed amount of time, building in the scope of work and expectations over that time period. At the end of that period, both the hire and the company can choose whether the employee should move on to a new venture or explore options for staying.
In the end, nothing can protect a company 100% of the time from making bad hires. Sometimes employees will leave after a few months, and sometimes you have to let people go. But preparation goes a long way towards minimizing your risk and handling the situation when it arises.
With the level of competition for talent in today’s tech world, early stage companies must work hard to attract the talent critical to their success. Companies put hundreds of hours into hiring, spending thousands of dollars to attract and retain the right people, with good reason; the right hires make a direct impact on a company’s success and growth. But all of this time, effort and money may be spent in vain if companies are not honest with the candidates they hire about work, expectations and the company’s state of affairs. Understandably, companies want to paint an attractive picture for talented candidates because, well, they want to attract them. But as important as attracting candidates is, being transparent with them is key.
It Creates The Right Expectations
Working for startup companies is difficult enough as it is. Working for one without clear expectations, cloudy roadmaps and unknown or unanticipated structural issues can be a recipe for failure. It’s understandable that a company would want to make the right impression in an effort to attract top candidates, but expectations are powerful and setting the wrong ones early on can result in a difficult onboarding, a poor work experience and a shorter tenure for employees. Be clear and accurate when describing to potential employees the state of company affairs and expectations for performance.
It Attracts People Who Can Handle It
An accurate picture of the work, expectations for employees and a clear view of the company’s state of affairs may indeed scare off some of your potential hires. To that, I say, good. Employees who can’t handle the realities of your company and flee from accountability are the last thing any early stage venture needs. Anyone worth hiring should know going in that startups are no picnic. The flip side to this is painting a rosy, less than accurate picture of things, and anyone worth hiring should know better.
It Opens The Door For Improvement
Setting clear expectations and being open and upfront when hiring can actually help to address issues and problems you are facing. Issues cannot be addressed unless they are known and acknowledged. Being upfront with candidates can result in finding great hires who may know how to navigate issues, and can even help address and overcome obstacles.
It can be uncomfortable for founders and managers to set clear expectations for candidates for fear of losing out on good people. But in the long run, a transparent approach to hiring will yield happier, more prepared and more productive hires.
The dynamic of the hiring relationship between companies and candidates is shifting. Unemployment is down, wages are increasing, the tech industry continues to grow and more talent is opting to start a company rather than join one. So when a great candidate comes across your desk, acting with speed to qualify, interview and hire them is more critical than ever. With offers coming from every which way, keeping candidates engaged is difficult; something that can be improved with a more timely process. This presents many challenges to companies, where the norm has been widespread sourcing, longer interview processes and lengthier negotiations. Optimizing these processes while maintaining the quality of hires is an undertaking, but not impossible. Below are several ways hire great candidates faster and keep candidates engaged while maintaining talent standards.
Every company worth their weight in gold places talent acquisition as one the the highest priorities. Make it higher. For early stage companies, every hire is critical and has a make or break impact. So cancel meetings, adjust your schedule and push everything else aside when great candidates come across your desk. Talent might understand that you are busy, but that doesn’t mean they will wait around or ignore other opportunities.
Focus On What You Really Need
Laundry lists of skills and requirements can kill your hiring process, much less prolong it. Narrow down your requirements to the core, put all of your focus on those needs, and leave everything else alone. Sure, there are nice-to-have resume items, but if your candidates are the right caliber of talent for your company, chances are they can handle acquiring additional skill sets. This not only helps with the speed of your process, but will lessen the chance of alienating quality people that otherwise might have passed.
There’s no secret sauce to this one. The faster you engage candidates, the sooner the process can begin. A quick response can also decrease your candidate drop off rate, keeping more people in the process from the start.
Nothing speeds up the process like being on the ball with communications. This is a simple fix as well, and logically pretty straightforward, but of course easier said than done. Yet ask any professional recruiter with a successful track record, and they will tell you that timely communications, even if just to say ‘message received, will respond soon’, is not only critical to keeping relationships moving but to keeping communications fresh and process moving.
Get the Team Engaged Early
Culture and team fit should carry a lot of weight when hiring, so it makes sense to get good candidates in front of your team quickly and early on. Should they not mesh well with the team, then you can end the process quickly. On the other hand, if there is cohesion between your team and candidates, then you will have strong signals early on.
People are smart enough to know when they are being strung along, especially when it comes to interviewing. Keep candidates informed about what’s going on, where they stand in the hiring process and what you need from them to move forward.
Give a Real Offer Sooner
Lengthy compensation negotiations can kill a deal more easily today. On top of being a frustration for some candidates (though not all), lengthy negotiations also allow candidates to continue other conversations, giving them time to negotiate with others as well. This is not to say that you should throw realism to the wind. But the lower you start from the end figure, the longer the road to get there, leaving the window open for other factors to come into play.
When it comes to recruiting and hiring, we simply cannot overstate the importance of moving quickly. In our history as a search firm, we have seen perfect matches break down simply because things were moving too slow. Whether another offer came to the table, a better position opened up elsewhere or candidates simply lost interest, time too often kills deals. If you are ready to hire great candidates get in touch with us today!