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When you’re launching a startup, one of the most important decisions you have to make is who to hire. The quality of your core team is one of the biggest factors in the speed and success of your startup - especially if you're in the early stages. It can be tempting to jump right in and start hiring people without having a game plan in place, but that rarely gets good results.
To ensure you hire the best possible candidates, it’s important to create a detailed plan that guides your recruitment process from beginning to end. Not only will this help you source candidates but it will help you attract top talent, identify the skills and experiences needed for each position, streamline your selection process, and establish an onboarding plan for new hires.
The best hiring plan for a startup takes into consideration short and long-term goals, defines new roles to be hired at certain milestones, and who's going to take the lead in building a hiring team and sourcing candidates.
For example, a previous early-stage startup that I worked for had sales quotas of $250K per AE each quarter. When the executive team and board outlined our growth plan for the next year, our EOY (end-of-year) goal was $3M. So we decided to hire a sales team of 4 reps in order to ensure that we hit our goals. This allowed us to plan specific roles, create job descriptions, and set timelines for when those hires needed to be made.
The hiring strategy plan should take into consideration employee bandwidth and include a timeline for recruitment, job descriptions, roles/responsibilities, what type of talent you’re looking for, budget and compensation plans, as well as any training and onboarding programs. If you'd like to see a startup hiring plan that's helping customers like High Alpha, Casted, Wistia, and Karius, hire better and lower employee turnover by more than 50%, chat with someone on our team. Our interview intelligence software makes it easier to source, assess, and retain top talent.
Once you've created a startup recruiting plan, it's important to have a template in place to ensure you're consistently reaching the necessary objectives. A startup hiring plan template is designed to be used as a guide for the entire recruitment process, from sourcing candidates to conducting interviews, and onboarding new hires - this template will work like a candidate funnel to ensure you’re staying on track and putting the right people into the right roles.
To get started, list the positions that need to be filled. Then create an outline that includes job descriptions, qualifications required, and any company values or culture statements you want them to possess. Include a timeline that outlines when each step of the recruitment process should take. To see our template, check out, "The Ultimate Interview Guide for Hiring Teams."
Each phase of the plan would have an objective:
In the kick-off phase, you're defining the role and candidate requirements. In the sourcing phase, you'll need to develop sourcing strategies, engage with candidates and identify qualified applicants. The interview phase is focused on conducting interviews and selecting the best hire for each role. The offer phase is when you make offers to your top picks and negotiate terms of employment. Finally, the onboarding phase covers all activities from the start date through employee integration into the team.
If you've been wondering how to hire a team for your startup, this is how it's done. This plan outlines the steps needed to fill your job openings and ensure you're hiring qualified employees with the skill sets, experiences, and values that align with your company's goals.
When hiring for your startup, there are two primary factors to a new employee's success. The first and most important is cultural fit. "Culture fit" can be boiled down to a simple concept, how does the person feel about the work environment you've created? From how they're managed, to the resources and opportunities that they're given, to the team dynamics, if a potential hire doesn't think they can be successful in your environment, they'll probably show signs of doubt very quickly.
The second is past experience. Does the candidate have the relevant experience and skills necessary to hit the ground running? Have they worked in this type of culture before? Are they equipped to operate well within your ecosystem?
If you can assess these two factors in each hire, you'll be much more likely to build a cohesive team. From there on out, it's about setting goals, allocating resources, creating processes and systems for success, and tracking progress.
When it comes to early-stage startup hiring, you have to be strategic, unless you've just raised a huge seed round, as you don't have the resources to burn cash on bad hires. As Kyle Lacy, former CMO of Lessonly (now Seismic) and current CMO of Jellyfish put it, "Hire people who've already done it..." meaning that you should focus on bringing in experienced people who have already been through the growth stages of a company and love that environment.
The early-stage startup hiring process is an iterative one and it's constantly adapting to the needs of the company. You'll need to define roles, think of the ideal candidate profile for each role, solicit referrals from industry contacts, post job ads online, filter applications and resumes, and then actually interview each candidate.
Once you've narrowed down the list to your top picks, it's important that you continue to evaluate each candidate through the interview process to ensure they're a fit. Have them take a skills assessment test and ask relevant technical questions related to their area of expertise. Then discuss the roles they've had in previous startups: what was the most successful project they helped launch? What were their biggest challenges?
At the end of the day, the best recruitment process for startups is the one that generates results. You'll have to iterate on the fly to find candidates that have a good blend of hard and soft skills as well as a cultural fit. If you can find someone who meets these criteria, shares your mission, and is excited to join your team, you've got yourself a winner!
The challenges you’ll face when hiring for a startup are different from those faced by more established companies. As you have limited resources and bandwidth, it’s important to be strategic in your approach. Startup hiring challenges also have a bigger impact on the company than they do in larger organizations and hiring the wrong people will exacerbate this.
Often the best recruitment process for startups is looking within your network for the right candidate. A quick post on LinkedIn, coffee with previous team members, referrals from people you know and trust, posting the open role on relevant online boards that you're connected to, such as Exit Five or PowderKeg, and looking through your connections on LinkedIn are all great ways to start.
Once you’ve sourced candidates, your next step is to evaluate them against your criteria. Make sure that they understand the unique mission of your startup and feel excited to be a part of your mission. Pay attention to the questions that they ask you to see how well they’ve done their research, as these are good indicators of whether or not a candidate is a good fit for your team.
Finally, you should assess their technical skills related to the role. Ask questions about projects they have worked on before. Using Scenario-based and behavioral interview questions to understand how the candidate will handle future challenges can also be an effective way to test their skills and knowledge. You'll also get a picture of how this person processes and solves problems.
Interview intelligence software can assist you as you assess candidates. Pillar's platform gives you the ability to see unique candidate insights only Ai can generate. Analyzing a candidate's speech patterns, facial queues, and inflections, the platform can provide an objective and quantitative assessment of your candidates. It will also record, transcribes, and indexes each interview so that you can send highlights to other team members, and score candidates appropriately.
At the end of the day, the hiring process for startups requires patience and attention to detail, but if you do it right, you'll develop a great team.
Startup interview questions and answers look different for each role, company, and team. But the way that you approach the interview should be consistent so you get measurable results. Ensuring an effective startup interview process is like any other business cycle, plan out each step of the process before beginning any interviews. Start by creating a list of important criteria to measure, and source candidates that match the right criteria and cultural fit.
If one aspect of your startup interview process isn't working, identify the issue and fix it. It may be that you need to revise the questions you ask, or the platform you use for sourcing or interviewing. Having an agile process allows you to adapt quickly and make sure that your interviewer is getting enough time with each candidate.
Once you've identified the right candidate, move quickly. Self-starters and high performers don't like to sit around waiting. Having an onboarding kickoff plan in place that slightly overwhelms the new employee is actually beneficial long term. MBA programs use this method to help new students prioritize their time and learning. They push the candidate past their capacity to assess their bandwidth and see what they place primary focus on.
In conclusion, it's vital to make sure each step of your startup interview process is effective and efficient. Pillar's video interview platform was created with this mission in mind. Our solution provides the suite of tools that you need to make better hires, faster. Schedule a demo to see how it works.