How not to Hire in a Startup?


Although there are several articles that discuss how to hire in a startup, I will like to focus on what we should watch out for when we are hiring. From the experiences we’ve had with hiring, we have learnt our share of lessons (and continue to learn).

So, you start the company with a dream and expect everyone to buy in. You get your co-founder or, first employee and build out a product. Suddenly, people start buying it and you have more money than you could dream of (I thought earning Rs, 50K/month will be great as otherwise, my parents will pressure me into finding a job). But, now you have customers who want your product to run like Amazon and you quickly realize that you need some help.

As a passionate founder or an early employee, you start the process of looking out for few early employees. You think that they will be so happy to leave their daily monotonous jobs and join an adventure where every day brings a new challenge!

‘Not really interested’ – this is what you hear after tons of cold calls and friend of friend references. But, you started a company so how can you ever be afraid of rejection J

After lot of networking, cold calls, posting and mining through job seekers on Naukri, Career Builder etc, you finally have a pipeline. As your expectations tend to slide a little, it feels that you should hire everyone that walks through your door (it’s so rare to even get them there in initial days!).

I have unfortunate news for you, it just got harder! Bad hires are like termites – you will spend more time managing those v/s building a product that brings in more revenue. Here is what you should watch out for -

1)      Don’t hire folks who have worked for long years (> 10) in an established company – they are used to process and like structure. Unless they hate their previous jobs primarily due to it, you will end up spending time convincing him as to why this is better.

2)      Run if you see a flip flopper – if you see that a person has jumped ships too many times e.g. 4 companies in last 4 years, just run! They will never stick around long enough to effectively contribute and will end up causing a headache.

3)      Ask why they are switching jobs and if they say ‘more money’ in any part of their reply – simply hide under the desk. Yes, it will come but after a long while! Chances are that they will not be able to wait for it.

4)      If someone shows up for interview without knowing anything about your company, politely tell them about yourself and how your company is going to change the world! Then, politely request them to leave. (I never leave an opportunity to talk about SocialAppsHQ J). If someone shows up without having a clue about a company where he might potentially invest 10-12 hrs a day for next few years, he may also show up daily without having a clue on how he is going to take the company forward.

5)      If someone tells you their current company’ secrets just to impress you in an interview, let them go!

6)      You are thoroughly impressed and ask when can you join? He/she replies tomorrow. Yay! No, just tell them that you are going to rescind the offer. If he/she can leave their previous job at day’s notice, they will leave yours as well.

We know hiring is tough in startups globally but inIndia, it’s a different ball game altogether. But don’t get desperate (I know we have gone to that point quite a few times), good people exist and they will come – just keep trying!

SocialAppsHQ now has 11 passionate and motivated members who are building world class products to compete with hot fundedSilicon Valleycompanies. We have ended up building the largest FB app store on planet and working on products that will re-shape marketing in near future. This is due to great employees who have right attitude and aptitude.

About the Author:

Rajat Garg (CEO, SocialAppsHQ) – Rajat graduated from DCE followed by MS atStanfordUniversity in 2005. As Product Manager at Amazon, he was responsible for conceptualization and launch of a Store, Amazon data feed and internationalization of various products. He has published couple of research papers as well as received a patent for his work that facilitated Amazon’s entry into corporate incentive market. Rajat then worked as General Manager for Real Estate Business unit at aSeattle startup DataSphere, where he grew business several folds. Rajat started Social AppsHQ in Jan 2011 after realizing the huge potential and impact this can make. His interests include biking and flying Cessnas’


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