The challenge is how to choose between the best of the technical talent and the really important for startups culture fit.
We all know there’s no substitution for refined, tangible skills. The kind of expertise that can only really come with years of experience and a mastery of one’s craft. When hiring for an engineering role, one which requires a deep understanding of the intricacies of computer science fundamentals, for example, a technical test is often the best way to ensure the candidate you’re interviewing is as qualified as his/her resume has led you to believe.
The good news is, once someone successfully passes your coding assignment, you with a pretty high degree of certainty that you’ve found a solid technical match. Maybe the assignment even gave you some insight as to the candidate’s ability to lead a team, break down a project, or make high-level architectural decisions. It’s a great evaluator of the core skills needed to be an effective member of the team. Well, that may be the case in larger organizations where individuals operate in silos, often independently of one another. But does the same hold true for smaller companies, namely tech startups of the Series A, B, or C variety? In taking a closer look at what shapes these businesses, the short answer is no. Technical skills will only take you so far - if you’re not fitting in with the ‘family’ that many of these startups are trying to create, you won’t be around quite as long as your experience might suggest.
Imagine an environment where you arrive early, you leave late, you eat most of your meals with the same group, and with whom you grab drinks afterwards.
This is a group where people share in each other’s passions, interests, and motivations. As much as what I’ve described might seem like a sports team that shares a common bond, or a family that truly loves one another, I’m talking about the makeup of a typical tech startup. The ones that can combine the ability to screen for raw technical skills and for culture fit in the organization are the ones that will have the most success. We can look at examples of companies like Facebook, FitBit, and that are taking this approach to hiring, and what it’s done for their overall team dynamic, and ultimately the way they excelled in their respective fields. Each is obviously at a different stage of maturity, and each is driven by a different mission, but they’ve all come to evaluate potential candidates as intensively on the culture scale as they have on technical abilities.
I’d like to leave you with a few tips on how I’ve seen dozens of companies successfully employ techniques to screen for culture fit, and hopefully the next time you interview someone for your startup, you’ll try them out yourself:
In dealing exclusively with Seed to Series C funded startups for the past few years, my team at Synapse has seen the value in hiring for culture first-hand, but do not confuse that with ignorance of technical chops. Without the core skill set, you can’t let someone’s cultural fit cloud your judgment. You’ve got a business to run, and must ensure that every member of the team is filling a need.
Stay tuned! http://bit.ly/2lqEbcG
We are soon launching the beta of a Talent marketplace that aims to match quality software engineers, designers and other tech specialists with selected startups. You can sign up here for free early access to specialists and startups.