How to Hire Teams for a Startup

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How to Hire Teams for a Startup

World-class start-up growth is often measured in geometric and exponential numbers. We hear terms like "triple, triple, double, double, double," and other impressive sounding words that describe the growth trajectory of a successful start-up. But what really drives these numbers? The answer is usually not technology, venture capital, or other resources - although each of these plays a large part. The answer is having the right team in place to build, execute and scale the start-up.

Finding talented individuals who are driven, have a passion for your business, share your vision, and your culture, and bring something unique to the table can be difficult. But it's vital to the success of your start-up. These key individuals should be screened and go through a startup interview process that's challenging enough to weed out anyone who isn't a good fit.

How to hire a great team for your startup:

  1. Start with the right recruitment strategy: Before hiring, define the most important qualities you want in your team members, and build a recruitment plan that attracts those candidates.
  2. Understand Your Needs: Before you start interviewing potential hires, you need to have a clear understanding of what your goals are, the business needs, and what you want in terms of skills and experience. This will help narrow down your search for the right candidates.
  3. Reach out to existing contacts: Networking is one of the best ways to find great people. Reach out to your contacts to see if they know anyone who would be a good fit for the role you're hiring for.
  4. Conduct thorough interviews: The interview process should include at least two or three rounds of in-depth questioning from individuals and a panel, as well as tests and assessments to identify the skills, abilities, and potential of each candidate. If you have access to interview intelligence software, this tool can serve as a force multiplier helping you see things the human eye won't catch in interviews.
  5. Create an onboarding plan: Once you've identified your top candidates, it's important to create an onboarding plan that will help them transition smoothly into their new roles. This should include training, cultural integration, and continued support from other team members.

When hiring your first 5- 10 employees, keep in mind that they will often need to be subject matter experts - Account Executives for example, with a secondary skill in some other aspect of marketing or sales disciplines - Cold outreach or Product Marketing so that they can serve cross-functionally.

Early Stage Startup Hiring

Hypothetically, you've just raised your pre-seed round and have the money to grow - congratulations! This is a huge win, but now the "rubber meets the road" - New quarterly goals and pressure from the board are soon to follow, luckily, you have the budget to increase headcount. Hiring top talent is a surefire way to scale your business and hit those goals, but it also takes time and effort.

When looking for the right team members at an early-stage startup, you want someone who is passionate about solving problems with creative solutions, can think on their feet, and has a proven track record of success in their field. It's important to be able to identify these qualities in potential candidates and create an interview process that is tailored to finding the right fit.

Early-stage startup hiring is key to setting the pace for your business. Once you've identified the business's biggest needs, create compelling job descriptions for each open role that showcase the opportunity and company culture - this will attract top-tier candidates who are seeking a high-paced role. Post these roles on LinkedIn, and on job boards, and share them with your network. Once you've identified a handful of candidates, conduct extensive interviews with potential hires to ensure they fit your team's skill set and values.

One of the biggest startup hiring tips we can give founders is to prioritize cultural fit during interviews - look for candidates who are self-motivated, driven, and eager to take on challenges. Also, consider the possibility of having remote employees and virtual contractors - this could give you access to a wider talent pool and talent at a lower cost.

Finally, before making any offers, get feedback from the team members who interviewed the candidate - have a discussion about their feelings about the person and their fit within the team. This will help ensure you're making sound hiring decisions for your business.

Startup Hiring Trends

The markets have taken a beating this quarter and with inflation, retention of top talent has become more challenging. Layoffs have been pervasive across Big Tech and small startups alike, which has led to decreased employee confidence and job security.

This current economic climate creates two huge opportunities for companies that are prepared. For starters, recent layoffs have made recruiting top-level talent a blue ocean. Next, under the current economic climate, larger businesses have to reduce their costs - This is an excellent opportunity for startups to compete against their larger incumbents since they can operate more efficiently and at a lower cost.

If you're an early-stage startup wondering how you're going to hire your first 10 employees, this a great market for you. Startup hiring trends are in your favor if you have the right budget, team, and strategy in place. Look for individuals who are passionate about developing innovative solutions to problems and are entrepreneurial in nature. These are the type of employees that can help your business grow and innovate at rapid speeds.

In this current market, a huge startup hiring tip would be to focus on creating a compelling employee value proposition that speaks to candidates' needs for job security and stability. Additionally, companies should show potential hires how they're positioning themselves to weather the storm of economic uncertainty while still delivering value over time.

Hiring Process for Startups

Let's assume for a moment that you're hiring your first AE (Account Executive), and you're facing some of the usual startup hiring challenges.  How do you create a hiring process that will help you find the best-fit candidate?

A great hiring process for startups always begins with a deep understanding of your company's needs, goals, and culture.

Start by asking questions like:

  • "What do we want people who interact with our people to feel?" (Happy? Confident? Relieved? Etc.)
  • "What personality type would thrive delivering that experience?" (Introverts? Extroverts? Subject matter experts? Consultants? Etc.)
  • "Do we need people in the office or can they work remotely?"
  • "What type of person would create the culture we want?"
  • "What do we need most right now?" (Sales? Product? Leadership? Etc.)
  • "What type of person would have a similar mission and purpose in life to that of our company's mission?"

This is the first step of your startup hiring plan template. Remember that people have innate drives that make them good at what they do, if you can match those to your company mission, purpose, and speed of operation, you'll find people that are excited to show up each day.

Next, your hiring process should be tailored to the specific role. Each position requires different skills and traits, so it's important to make sure that you're testing for the right things. Additionally, when crafting your job description, focus on job duties, responsibilities, and qualities needed for the particular position.

Once you've identified who you want to bring in for an interview, make sure that each candidate is evaluated in a consistent and fair manner. You should have an agreed-upon process for how interviews are conducted along with tools like interview intelligence to assess each candidate.

Finally, after you've made your selection and put together a job offer, make sure the onboarding process is smooth and efficient. This way, your new hire can start making contributions quickly and add value to your company right away.

If you'd like to see a full Account Executive hiring process, along with tips to make an effective hire, download our free eBook, "How to Hire Great Salespeople."

Startup Hiring Platform

If you're bootstrapping your startup, or have just raised your first round of funding, you may not have the time or budget to invest in a full-time recruitment team. Fortunately, there are a variety of startup hiring platforms that can help you find the best people for your growing team quickly and cost-effectively.

The first and most effective is LinkedIn. Probably not what you were expecting, but LinkedIn is the world's Rolodex in the palm of your hand. This is the first place to find talent, network with potential candidates, and even post job openings.

After you've established a list of potential prospects, it's essential to screen, and conduct interviews, and technical assessments in order to find the right candidate for any open roles. We're biased, but we built Pillar to be the best solution for this. Our video interview platform was created to help you make better hires in a fair and equitable way. Pillar's suite of tools allows you to automate much of your hiring workflow so that you can focus on providing a great candidate experience.

Once an offer has been accepted, it's important to integrate the new hire as fast as they can learn. Often the biggest challenge with hiring top talent is keeping them engaged through the standard onboarding process - after all, these are high performers, and they didn't get that way "sitting on their hands." Try to match the speed of your onboarding process to their ability to absorb information.

If you'd like to see other startup hiring platforms that can be integrated to create a seamless recruiting workflow our eBook, "How to Build the Best Recruitment Tech Stack," can help - and if you'd like someone to guide you through building a great startup hiring process, schedule a demo to chat with someone on our team. We'd love to help you make better hires!