The path to building a startup is never a straight line. Building a successful company from the ground up is something that takes an innate drive and motivation to build teams, identify and solve issues, and ultimately, create positive transformation.
You may have an excellent product idea in your hands, but more often than not, you won’t be able to do everything by yourself. You need a diversely skilled team to make it successful. So hiring the right team members for your startup is crucial for your product’s success.
As Neoito focuses on working with startups, we are aware of many issues that startup founders face. And funnily enough, a lot of them face the same issues. We’re on a mission to make sure it’s easier for founders to bring these issues out, so we can solve them together. That’s the reason we host “TECH FOUNDERS CIRCLE,” a recurring virtual event for tech founders everywhere. In the last event, one of the most asked questions was about hiring early team members for their startup. If you are interested, just comment your LinkedIn profile below, and our Chief Community Officer will send an invite for the next event.
So, in this article, we will discuss the factors you should consider when hiring.
Important Things To Consider When Hiring Early Tech Team Members
A startup exactly is its team in the beginning. These are the people who will signal your aspiration and set your limits. So, before hiring for startup positions, there is a lot to consider!
Hire deliberately: You are building a company, so don’t hire to fill a job. Make your first hires deliberately with the future in mind. You don’t have to hire people just because they are good in general and available. Since you are a startup, these kinds of opportunistic or bad hires can sink you.
Let us have a look at why bad hiring decisions happen and avoid them:
According to a post from Paycor.com, bad hiring decisions happen because,
- 43% needed to fill the job quickly
- 22% insufficient talent intelligence
- 13% sourcing techniques need to be adjusted per open position
- 10% fewer recruiters due to the recession have made it difficult to go through applications
- 9% didn’t check references
- 8% lack of strong employment brand
Do bear these factors in mind and avoid them for successful growth.
See out complementary personality traits: Other than skill sets, you also have to look for partners with complementary personality traits. First, assess your own strengths and weaknesses when looking for a good partner. For instance, if you are good at building relationships and business but don’t have the technical knowledge, hire someone who is an expert in that, which means you need to find someone who complements your skills, not contrasts with them.
When forming a team, you have to balance the skills of one team member with the complementary skills of others. In that way, each team member plays to his distinctive strengths like strategy, leadership or operations, while rallying around the team’s shared purpose.
So, choosing team members with different skill sets can add something new to your business. It helps you achieve much more success than you could have achieved alone.
Know who you are looking for: Before you start advertising for a position, write a job description for the person you are looking for. But, before writing one, you must realize what exactly you need from your team member. You may sometimes download the requirements of the particular position from the internet and publish it. But, copy-pasting it completely is not something I would support. Your requirements might be completely different from that of your competitors. Of course, you can take references, but make sure it satisfies your needs. If not, include the additional skills you are expecting from your new team member. Most importantly, you should know your expectations well to hire the right people.
So, before advertising:
- Make your job titles specific
- Think well
- Understand the qualities and requirements you are looking for in your team members
- Be specific about the responsibilities and duties he/she should perform
Your job description needs to engage and excite potential candidates. It is an opportunity to solidify your mission, vision, and values in a concise way that is compelling to co-founders or team members who are thinking about joining your team.
Assess talent carefully: After you have reviewed your applicant’s resume, skills, and character, and interviewed him/her personally. You can ask your co-founder (if you have one) or the tech guy in your team to interview the candidate for a second opinion. If you don’t have a tech guy in your team, you can meet a lot of tech people from the events like TECH FOUNDERS CIRCLE and hire your first tech guy.
To assess his/her talent, you can follow some talent assessment methods and determine they fulfill your requirements.
- Personality tests: Working out the behavioural traits and thought process of the candidates is useful for many positions. You can identify valuable attributes like attendance, leadership, and creativity and assess them easily alongside the characteristics of other candidates. However, personality tests can be used as a secondary activity as they are not effective as a standalone means of determining a candidate’s suitability for a role.
- Cognitive ability testing: It can also be called “Intelligence tests” or “General Aptitude Tests.” It usually includes numerical and verbal reasoning and even logic exercises, but they can also branch out to memory, problem-solving, attention to detail, and more. This method helps you assess the candidate’s general intelligence and ability to follow several concepts and solve fundamental problems.
- Exercises and games: Usually, exercises are done in group interviews. Here you can ask the candidates to work together to resolve an issue or debate a specific problem. By observing them, you can draw conclusions about each candidate’s abilities and attitude.
Depending on the form of these assessments, their effectiveness might vary.
Reference the references: Instincts are powerful, but they cannot tell you your employee’s past. You have to make use of every opportunity to check your candidate’s references. For that, you can talk to the people he/she has worked with in the past to get new insights and clarify existing ones. These references are invaluable that help you avoid costly mistakes.
What to look for in prospective hires?
Honestly speaking, startups are not for everyone; working at a startup is very demanding. Working with minimum supervision, quickly adapting to changing conditions, continuous multitasking, etc., most people don’t have what it actually takes to face these challenges and succeed.
Due to this reason, it is extremely important to choose the right people who can keep up with your fast-growing business and further advance it.
In my opinion, choosing the person with the right values is equally important as the person who has the right skills. Having a good personality can have a lot of positive effects on your life and career and help you achieve your goals.
If you want to find people who can thrive in a dynamic startup culture, you need to look beyond skills. You should carefully assess your candidates’ motivations, look for cultural fit, and hire for potential.
That said, I am going to list out specific characteristics that you should look for when looking for tech startup roles:
Attitude/skills: It is easy to fall under the trap of thinking that the most qualified candidate is your best option. However, attitude is the best predictor of new hire success. It is something that you won’t be able to directly identify from a resume alone, but it is crucial to keep in mind when you interview your candidates.
When interviewing, asking questions like:
- Describe the past situation at work that led them to grow as a person, or
- Describe the perfect work environment for them, etc.,
will let you know the type of person they are, what motivates them, and character traits that make them unique.
Attitudes that you should look for:
Ability to multitask: To function effectively, a small company with a few employees will mainly consist of people who can multitask. You have to look for people who are ready to take on new duties and responsibilities. They should be the ones who can wear many hats. You will need them.
Eager to learn: Your startup will experience exponential growth if everything goes according to your business plan. So, you need to bring people who are eager to learn and grow with your company by taking on new responsibilities and tasks.
Flexibility: With all startups, there will be constant changes. As you are starting and figuring things out, methods of conducting business will probably change many times before you find reliable methods that work well each time. So, the people you hire should be flexible enough to adjust to these changes.
Entrepreneurial: When building a core team for a startup, the candidates you are looking for should have an entrepreneurial mindset. You always want to stand out from your competitors, so it is better to choose people who can think outside the box and are ready to take risks. Look for doers, people with a hands-on mentality.
Culture fit: Culture fit is as important as finding someone with the right skills, especially for your earliest employees. It is because your earliest employees are integral to building your company culture. When I say hire people for culture fit, it doesn’t mean hiring someone like you. Doing this will lead to a lack of diversity within your startup team, and you will miss out on the creativity, experience, and knowledge of more diverse applicants.
The type of person you hire now based on their attitude and values will significantly impact the kind of people you hire in years to come.
Soft skills: When listing out the hard skills your employee needs on the job description, you have to look for these soft skills as well. Although these skills are also crucial for your business. They are communication skills, interpersonal skills, adaptability, creativity, empathy, etc.
When hiring startup positions, consider individuals who will strengthen your leadership and accurately represent your brand.
Some ways to find members for your tech startup roles
Make use of every conversation: You will never know who can help you to connect with a co-founder or an early team member through their network. Practice your “elevator pitch.”
Work your network: Collaborate with friends, universities, former colleagues, etc., to spread the word about who you are looking for.
Reach out to people you know that they have the skills you want: If you know someone who fits the job description you seek, who is not on the move. Connect with them and let them know the type of person you are interested in for your startup position. They likely will have other people in their networks with similar interests or backgrounds.
Virtual Network: To meet people outside of your circle, you can attend networking events (in person or virtually), LinkedIn, etc. But don’t expect you will meet the person you are seeking magically. You have to be patient.
As a startup, you may struggle to bring on the best early team members for the successful development of your product. Hiring a seasoned offshore product development team can get you there as well. It is cost-effective, allows you to reduce your stress behind hiring and firing, and you will already get access to a larger talent pool, and you can focus on tasks like sales, marketing, etc.
I have seen many startup founders sharing their ideas and seeking our assistance to bring them into life. For them, Neoito is more than just an outsourcing partner. We can act as your tech partner and also provide you a tech co-founder if you don’t have one. As we also play the role of a tech co-founder, your product’s successful development is our priority.
As we have worked with many founders directly, we know what it takes to successfully build your ideas. So, if you plan to start your own company, you have to start building relationships with people that embody your company vision, mission, and culture.
Hiring the right people from the beginning helps you get a proper direction and helps you better manage your team.