Hiring · Startups

Best practices for conducting interviews and hiring as you start to grow past 10+?


August 13th, 2015

There are only 10 of us right now and we are looking to hire 3 more positions. We’re now at the point where we need more process around finding, vetting, interviewing and deciding on candidates - not just “go interview them” and then discuss. What have other people instituted that has worked process-wise?

Daniel Marques Director of Application Development at Pragma Securities LLC

August 13th, 2015

While I think (good) recruiters bring a lot of value (and have no problem using them when hiring), they really can only provide you help with the first step - getting a concise stack of semi-appropriate resumes.

From the point of view of hiring technical people, here is the general outline I follow:
1. resume screen
2. phone screen - Two parts
a. culture match (e.g. small company vs big)
b. technical questions based on resume (i.e. do they really know what they put on their resume, are their answers appropriate for the skill level they present themselves as)
3. in person technical interview
a. usually a bit of an introduction
b. a first screen - to make sure the candidate isn't about to waste everyone's time
c. in depth interviews with members of staff (4 or so, each usually running 1.5 hours)
4. Internal discussion on if we should proceed with offer, needs more interviewing, decline offer.

Pretty basic outline. You'll need to adjust to your particular circumstances.

I left out the we also have a (untimed) at home coding example.  After the phone screen phase.

Mamie Stewart Founder & CEO at Meeteor, Speaker, Change-maker

August 14th, 2015

Hiring the right people is one of the most important jobs a leader has. So its worth investing time in process to increase the chances that you've found the right person for the right role. (Think of how much stress and waste is caused by having the wrong person on your team. And firing people sucks so many of us avoid it for as long as possible which only adds to the stress and waste in the company.) 

The two things that have been extremely helpful to me are (1) Competency-based + learning from experience interviews and (2) Simulations.

In short, number 1 is about figuring out what competencies are required for the job and your culture. Competencies are different from knowledge or skills - they're more like personality traits or behaviors (like being detail oriented or the ability to adapt and change quickly). Then interview the candidate to see if they have the competencies you've determined are required by asking him/her about how they've behaved in past experiences. (Our prior behaviors are good indicators of our future behaviors.) 

Number 2 is about seeing the candidate's skills, expertise and personality in action. A simulation asks the candidate to tackle a challenge that is relevant to the job to showcase how they do their work. This gives you a chance to 'see them in action' and for them to experience what its like working with you. 

I'm happy to share more about the specific processes and tools I use. (I used to consult with small organizations on their staffing process so I've got a bunch of stuff.) Just send me a direct message.

Scott Evanson CBDO/Co-founder at Smart Rhino Labs

August 13th, 2015

Depending on what your existing team and your budget is like, David's advice might be your quickest and easiest route to finding the right person.

Whether you bring on an outside Recruiting firm or you have someone own this internally you will need to spend some time identifying and clearly outlining the roles you need filled as well as the specific skills necessary for someone to be effective in that role. 

This can be tricky in an early stage startup where everyone wears 5 different hats.

Jason Gorham Corporate Executive Recruiter at Aflac

August 16th, 2015

You should utilize compentacy based interviewing (http://www.kornferry.com/products/talent-selection/interviewing) and have each member of your team focust on a different compentacy as well asking seperate questions.  At this stage make sure that you are hiring for fit as you are probably a small team.  Also consider can this person grow and elove with the company or will they be pushed out once you start to grow.  

Peter Liepmann Family Physician, Policy Wonk, Systems Analyst, Healthcare MBA

August 16th, 2015

If you know what you want from an employee, let them show it. (See below) 
ATH also has advice about finding more applicants- network w your best employees. 

Take a look at 

Think of the interview as the candidate's first day at work, with the only question that matters being this:

"What's your business plan for doing this job?"

To successfully answer that, the candidate must first demonstrate an understanding of the company's problems, challenges, and goals -- not an easy thing to do. But since you desperately want to make a great hire and get back to work, why don't you help the best candidate succeed? Two weeks before the interview, call up the candidate and say the following:



Gabor Nagy Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics

August 15th, 2015

As a technical founder, I'm mostly interested in what that person did in his/her free time as a hobby / passion project.
School degrees and work experience have much less weight when you are looking for people with exceptional skills and exceptional motivation / enthusiasm.
If I'm impressed with what you did when you were not paid (and you are a decent person), I'll hire you.
So, a short interview should do it. Engineer candidates are encouraged to bring their projects.
If I see a circuit board with Woz-like design magic, or a software project comparable to ones developed by a 100 engineers, I'm impressed.