How To Avoid Hiring the Wrong Person for Your Startup

How to be sure you don’t end up hiring the wrong person for your startup.

“I’m not sure what happened. She appeared to have exactly the experience our startup needs!” “Everyone on the team liked him, so we just went with it.” Perhaps you’ve said these words yourself or heard them from a hiring manager of a startup who is frustrated after a new hire turns out to be a total flop. One of the pains a startup could face is hiring someone considered an ideal candidate, only to discover they aren’t who they claimed to be. A US Department of Labor survey states that hiring the wrong person can cost up to 30% of the employee’s annual salary. What is a hiring process? A hiring process is simply the strategic process of finding, selecting, and employing new hires to a startup.

In fact, in 2017, 50% of startups said their number challenge was hiring the right candidates; however, there are ways to avoid being snowed by someone good at making a first impression but poor at delivering results, so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person. Here is how to avoid hiring the wrong person, so you don’t hire a dud again and end up hiring the wrong person:

Be Thorough in Your Startup’s Hiring Process

Everyone enjoys asking, “What would you do in this situation?” or “How do you believe we should approach this challenge?” These questions reveal how a candidate thinks about and reacts to the realities of your startup. Let them demonstrate what they’ve been able to accomplish at other startups and be thorough. Call the former hiring manager of each candidate and ask serious questions like; What resources were made available to them? What difficulties did they encounter? What results did they produce, or what achievements did they achieve? Why did they leave that position? It might be rigorous and tiring, but it ensures you don’t end up hiring the wrong person, and you don’t know what you’re dealing with in their history until you have a clear sense of these things. It’s easy to make assumptions about someone’s past; it’s more challenging to take the time to learn the truth. How can you avoid hiring the wrong person for your startup? You can avoid hiring the wrong person for your startup by being thorough in your hiring process.

Don’t Be Too Optimistic

The most common mistake startups’ hiring managers make is being overly optimistic, hoping that this candidate is “the one,” rather than objectively determining if they genuinely have the skills and background required for the job. It’s also not a good idea to do the opposite, so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person.

Hardball questions, intimidation tactics, and giving trick questions or tests are all counterproductive; the most effective approach is to remain calm, measured, balanced, and consistent. Your gut reaction to people is essential, but it is not a substitute for careful research. Take your time and be thorough—you’ll be glad you did, as you won’t end up hiring the wrong person.

Follow a Consistent Process

Make sure your startup interview process is consistent across all incoming candidates, choose your interview questions carefully, and seek assistance if you are unsure what to ask so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person. Once you have the questions, create a basic rubric (even qualitative) to ensure that interviewers’ and candidates’ scores are consistent.

When you’ve narrowed it down to finalists, have them interview with your entire startup team (if it’s small enough), or at the very least, everyone they’ll be working with closely. Suppose you don’t give your team members specific, unique questions and rubrics to use. In that case, they’ll likely ask repetitive questions and re-run the same conversations with the candidate, limiting your ability to evaluate how to avoid hiring the wrong person.

Make the Most of Job Boards

If you employ multiple new people, talent acquisition software, job boards such as an applicant tracking system can help you find suitable candidates and avoid hiring the wrong person. It will also efficiently evaluate and track applications throughout the selection and interview process so you won’t end up hiring the wrong person. Dell implemented software called Interview Stream, this digital interview tool has reduced the time managers, and other team members spend interviewing candidates by 50 percent. 

Make sure you use software to manage your candidates so that everything is in one place; curriculum vitae, communication with candidates, internal notes, other information. Please do not rely on archives or discussion threads for this information, as it will create inefficiency and headaches for management. 

Hiring software such as JazzHR can manage high applicants and recommend their monthly subscriptions to severe employers. 

You can also use Upwork as a job board platform; they will manage your roster of candidates; you can shortlist and message candidates from the platform and sort them in various ways, including best match, based on the Upwork algorithm.

Upwork is different from most job boards because it allows you to go beyond looking for candidates; you can manage payments, view business activity, and more. Other competitors include Jobrack.eu and Indeed, each with their respective pros and cons.

Google Spreadsheets, however, are an excellent option for startups, as long as they are clear and organized; you can use spreadsheets to manage candidates. It is manageable for a smaller number of applicants, between 30 and 100.

They are getting your job offer to as many ideal candidates as possible, them where they are looking. The higher the number of applicants, the better; more options, more variety, more competition.

Include Experienced Recruiters in the Hiring Process. It is vital to gather information from your startup team, especially from others who understand the position and work effectively to avoid hiring the wrong person. It is also a good idea for the applicants to interact with your employees with different perspectives on the business to ensure that they will be a good fit. What does not appear to be a red flag to one person may be evident to someone else.

Manage Candidates In Your Startup’s Hiring Process

If you advertise in the right place, you will have more applicants than ever, but that can create another set of challenges. 

Many great candidates have slipped off the web due to inefficient hiring processes; lost emails, attachments buried in discussion threads, even lost paper, the more holes in the cube, the more candidates your startup will miss; not ideal for finding talent, which might, in turn, end up hiring the wrong person.

Verify Applicants’ Information

Many startup employers don’t follow benchmark checks, revealing a lot about potential new hires and hiring the wrong person. Contact the applicant’s previous work supervisors to know how they worked with others in previous jobs and ask about their strengths and weaknesses.  Asking questions on previous employments also assesses the candidate’s three most recent jobs, starting with broader questions about his priorities and accomplishments.

Asking the same questions will show you patterns indicating if a candidate will be a loyal, kind employee and if they can be a longtime team member or otherwise how to avoid hiring the wrong person for your startup. Answers to these questions will aid your hiring process and help you make informed decisions.

Also, if the position requires technical skills, creating an assessment test will help you avoid hiring the wrong person.

Overcome Your Prejudices and Also Include Well-Defined Startup Job Descriptions

A thorough, detailed job posting is the first step in hiring right, so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person. You will receive unqualified candidates if your job posting omits the critical skills required for the position or fails to describe all of the role’s responsibilities. 

That is why an in-depth job posting is essential — so you can screen out those who aren’t a good fit for the role before they apply. Begin by identifying your ideal candidate and writing the job posting in mind; list requirements and preferred skills and any soft skills you believe are necessary for the role. 

To ensure you haven’t overlooked anything, have others in your organization review your job posting and add anything they believe will help you attract the best candidates. Tests like DISC help you uncover your strengths and weaknesses to know where your hiring gaps lie. What is DISC? DISC is a personal assessment tool used for communication productivity and helps foster teamwork in the workplace, and can be used to assess the behavioral pattern of potential hires. Psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston founded hiring test evaluation, DISC, in the 1920s, which he divided into four main styles of communication: domination, influence, stability, and conformity. 

Have Candidates Perform Trials

Following your initial interview of incoming candidates, you should have everyone seriously considering performing a trial task that reflects the work they’ll be doing if hired.  The goal here isn’t to get candidates to do work for free; instead, it’s to see what they’ll do when given specific goals and expectations.

Necessitate familiarity with a candidate with relevant skills, network, or industry knowledge by spending at least two to three hours; it forces them to draw on resources they will have access to while working for you. Simulate as closely as possible a miniature version of their work. Suppose I was to hire a director of development. In that case, I might ask them to a) identify a potential funder for my organization and b) outline a proposal to see how they structured their approach. 

If I were hiring a partnership manager, I would have them a) identify three new organizations that they believe would be good partners for me and b) show me how they would make initial contact with these organizations. Tell the candidates that while they are working on the trial, they can ask you questions. Good people will complete the project, but great people will knock it out of the park after clarifying a few points with you and seeking guidance on critical matters.

Make sure that all of the candidates complete the same task so that you can compare apples to apples. You’ll notice that only the most motivated candidates complete the task, and you’ll be able to tell who is more thorough and dedicates more time to it. You’ll also be able to see whose opinion is most in line with your actual work. Create the task to demonstrate how good their judgment is.

Conferences Are a Great Place To Find the Right Candidates for Your Startup

According to a Forbes post, one of the ways to avoid hiring the wrong person is finding suitable candidates at specialized events. Keith Ferrazzi, bestselling author of “Never Eat Alone,” offered this advice.  She said it helps vet candidates personally as you will be bringing them into your network and setting a culture that will set precedence for a long time.

Take It Slow

Your startup might need to fill a position urgently, but taking it slow will help your hiring process.

Check out your candidates’ demeanor when answering questions; does the applicant speak primarily negatively about his previous position? An opposing candidate is likely to encounter problems at your company as well. Does the applicant ask intelligent questions? If your candidate did their homework, they should meaningfully participate in the position and your company. If you’re not sure, invite the candidate for another interview, or keep looking, so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person for your startup.

How To Find the Ideal Candidate

How to avoid hiring the wrong person, your startup doesn’t have to be in charge of hiring, even if you have an HR team. You can outsource the process of finding candidates to headhunters such as job boards to get words out that you’re hiring, including the hiring process. The main advantage of having specialized Headhunters is that you will have access to passive candidates (not actively looking for work) and active candidates. 

Thanks to the specialization of recruiters, you will have access to higher-quality profiles that fit perfectly with your startup company’s values ​​and culture, so you don’t end up hiring the wrong person. Although it may not seem like it, it is logical, if you think about it, when you post a job offer and some candidates apply, these headhunters evaluate if they fit the offer. 

Find out how much startup equity you should give valuable advisors.

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