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Startup hiring —where it can go wrong

Siddhartha Ahluwalia
30th Aug 2016
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  1. Identify signals: If the person doesn’t want to work with you as much as you want to work with him, don’t chase him beyond a limit. It’s good to be persuasive, but your persuasiveness can backfire when the person who got hired realises that the way you gave attention to them before hiring is not the same as once they are hired. It’s the same as dating a girl. If she said yes to you because of the attention you gave it’s probably not going to work out in the long run as the attention might decrease with time. Also, they might get convinced for the wrong reasons.
  2. Too much negotiation: If there is too much salary negotiation happening, don’t hire. This means either you are paying too little or the person is joining for a salary hike alone.
  3. Consistency: The best investors consider consistency one of the most valuable traits among the founders. You keep them updated consistently on your progress month on month while you are pitching to them. The same is the case with the best people you wish to hire; it is important to keep them informed about product and business progress. You should even tell them about your mistakes along the way and what you learned from them.
  4. Don’t hire in need: This is the point when you are going to make the most mistakes. Hire calmly and know that the faster you hire, the more mistakes you are going to make.
  5. Test for persistence: One way to test persistence is to call the candidate to your office many times. If he gives up and says you are not making the decision fast enough, don’t hire. We hire for persistence. This ensures the person can go the extra mile when needed. One of the best designers we have hired came to our office for eight continuous weekends before we hired him and he said yes to us. Having been accustomed to the corporate world, he joined us because of how much he liked our team culture, which he observed during his many visits.
  6. It’s time-consuming: Realise that as a startup founder, hiring is going to take up most of your time. There are two options a) Hire the wrong people fast, and spend your time managing them. b) Hire the right people slowly and be carefree as far as they are concerned.
  7. Problems + money: When you have money and are in trouble at the same time, never hire. Hiring doesn’t solve your problems. Try to figure out the solution yourself first and then hire someone who can repeat it better than you.
  8. Role of mentors: Have a one or two mentors/advisors /investors who can take one of the interview rounds. You don’t have to agree with them all of the time, but their perspective helps a lot.
  9. Leave imprints: Remember, as you are looking out for the best people, the best people are looking for you. Have a blog. Share your learnings on social media. Blog about your team members’ experience. The best people are on the lookout for new experiences and learnings.
  10. Interview with the entire team: We had one instance where one of the candidates for the sales position appealed to us and we were about to hire him. One different thing we did was to introduce him to the entire team right then. The team had feedback that he was not open to, which was why we decided against hiring him. The member has to ultimately work with the entire team. If the team likes the person in the first go, that is a positive signal to take the person to the next round.
  11. Empathy with your users: We have made many candidates talk to mothers on our platform on the phone. How they reacted during those calls told us a lot about how quick they were to understand our users. If a candidate feels uncomfortable talking to your users or criticises them, you should not go ahead with him/her. He/she will most probably never be able to feel your users’ pain points.
  12. Trust your gut: Last but not the least your gut feel will be right most of the times. Even if after many rounds of interview your find that the desired skills and attitudes match but your gut tells you something is missing, don’t go ahead with the person. An interview process only helps you know about 10 percent about a person. You can get to know the other 90 percent only once you work with the person. Your intuition might be able to catch signals which your logical mind isn’t able to.
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Authors
Siddhartha Ahluwalia
Siddhartha Ahluwalia, is the Co-Founder of Babygogo, a mom & baby healthcare mobile platform where Moms can connect to other Moms and experts to get solutions to all their parenting worries.

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