Top 5 Mistakes Start-ups Make When Hiring

There is enough evidence to show that companies that hire smartly, spend less time and effort on both training and retentions in the following years. Bad hires are every company’s nightmare and while bad hires cannot be completely avoided, there are a few effective ways through which firms can screen candidates to ensure that they suit the business requirements.  While most establishments choose to stick to standard policies while recruiting new hires, it is crucial for start-ups to implement better and more evolved HR processes at the time of hiring, as wasted time, effort and money are things that start-ups cannot take lightly.  

Mistake #1 - Failure To Appropriately Pre-Screen Candidates 

Time is money and wasted time in the hiring process when a company is scaling leads to lost revenues. A 30 minutes pre-screening call with each candidate might seem like a waste of time but can work out to be a long-term contingency plan to understand the strengths and weaknesses of candidates you are considering bringing in for an interview or moving forward in your hiring process. Start-ups that choose to pre-screen candidates, might not consider work ethics as an important deciding factor, this, in fact, is important to ensure that the new hire has an easy transition, fits in well and will be more likely to abide by the company’s policies. A great pre-screen call where you learn as much information about the candidate's motivations, interest in the position, and expectations for the job and hiring process can really help create efficiencies throughout the hiring process.  

Moreover, making sure you are aligned on the skill sets needed for a role and define the job well before writing up a well-written job posting can be a quick and painless way to give candidates the information that needs to self-select out and stop candidates that are not a fit from applying in the first place. Some quick pre-screening questions in the apply process can also help with this.  

Mistake #2 - Fall Short On Preparing The Candidate  

Preparing the candidate about the required job skills, work culture, designation, as well as the company’s values from the get go, can aid in the attempts of finding a candidate that can not only ace the interview but can also walk in prepared with all the needed information to excel at the task at hand. Laying emphasis on coaching the candidate and interacting with him or her on a one-on-one basis can also help the HR personnel understand if the candidate is indeed worth hiring. 

Mistake #3 - Lack Of Effort In Preparing Interviewers 

An action plan is needed not only to prepare the candidates but also to coach the interviewers. This goal can be accomplished with the interviewers holding an internal meeting before the hiring process commences. Things to discuss would include which interviewer is responsible for asking particular questions, which interviewer would be assessing a certain set of credentials for each candidate and the best way to streamline the hiring process so that there is minimum wastage of time and resources.  

Mistake #4 - Deficit of Asking Questions During The Interview 

Most start-ups conduct interviews in the form of an open dialogue. While this might be suitable at times, a more effective way to hire candidates is to ask both open and close-ended questions that will force the candidate to think on their feet. If an opportunity strikes, then asking the candidate to display their skills in a real-time environment might also be worthwhile to decide if he or she can react quickly and provide a solution with efficiency and not enough planning. So try more behavioral interview questions and open-ended questions can really help you get a better sense of the candidate's experience. 

Mistake #5 - Focus On Evaluating Personality and Not Just Job Skills  

While most interviewers and HR personnel prefer to hire candidates with standard values that fit into a box, this can be troublesome later on during the employment cycle, especially if the job profile requires employees to think out of the box. Diversified thinkers and teams with members with different skills can add value to a start-up’s operations. The goal should be to find a candidate who can perform the given task within his comfort zone while having the capacity to have a unique and complementary skillset, push his/her limits when needed, and add value to both the team and the culture of the firm they are employed with. 

Will Staney

Will is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies, LLC and the former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at rapidly-growing startups Twilio andGlassdoor. Prior to that he held recruiting leadership roles at enterprise software leaders VMwareSuccessFactors and SAPwhere he lead strategic programs includingemployer brandingsourcing strategy, recruiting operations and systems process design.

During his over 7 years as a recruiting practitioner, after 10 years in sales and marketing, he developed a passion for building what he calls "modern recruiting machines". He would push innovation from the inside, execute on his vision, and once it was realized he would pass the torch on to those he had mentored and move on to his next challenge. He was destined to start a consultancy so he could help as many companies as possible adopt a more proactive recruiting strategy with community in mind.

In his free time, Will enjoys riding his motorcycle, trying out the newest gadgets, and spending time with his two kids, Foster and Felicity.