Essential traits to look for in a startup’s first hires


Not everyone can work in startups. It requires a certain kind of mindset, a risk-loving attitude and the dedication to take up challenges. From an entrepreneur’s point of view, hiring is one of the make-or-break decisions he/ she has to deal with. Especially when it comes to the initial hires, entrepreneurs find themselves in a tough situation, as they are restricted by low budgets while wanting to build the best and most dedicated core team.

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Hiring a wrong candidate can also cost you a lot. Research that has tracked 20,000 new hires found that 46 percent of them failed within 18 months, and 89 percent of the time, it was because of differences in attitude. About 39 percent of chief financial officers who took part in a survey on hiring conducted by Robert Half International said that bad hires lowered overall productivity and 11 percent said that it resulted in fewer sales. So here’s the lowdown on the essential traits you have to look for while hiring your first employees to avoid such pitfalls:


A startup environment is one that requires employees to keep their egos aside and work together as a team. Sometimes, they will have to step in to do work that is outside their job responsibilities. So one of the main things that you should look for in your initial hires is humility. The building blocks of your startup should be formed with a group of smart professionals who are open to picking up new skills as and when required. And only if they are humble will they be open to seeking help and manage their differences to help your startup progress.


Startups are built on passion, so it is obvious that passion is an essential trait for a new hire. Those on your own team should be passionate about the work they do, and the purpose and goal of the firm. Without passion, it is hard to sustain interest in the work you do, and it will hinder you from putting your best into the work in front of you. A person who is passionate will be ready and enthusiastic to go the extra mile for the goals of the company, which is extremely important for your core team.

Team spirit

A startup’s success is the result of the dedicated efforts of a highly skilled team. An initial hire must always be comfortable with working with others in a team. Collaboration is key to any team’s success. Team members should be able to motivate each other and put the team’s interest above their own. They should also be ready to balance out their co-workers’ weaknesses with their own strengths, and motivate each other to give their best. Your core team should be empathetic, accommodating and helpful to newer team members. They should be able to thrive on the diversity the team brings and should stay away from indulging in ego battles.


Working in a startup is not all that easy. It is a gamble. It is a risk your employee is taking over a comfortable, well-paying job they could have settled into. So choose someone whom you think has it in them to toil through the difficult times that await them. Startup life is unpredictable, exhausting and, sometimes, thankless. And not everyone thrives in such an atmosphere. Choose candidates who are risk-lovers and have endured such demanding situations before.

Presence of mind

Working in a startup requires employees to always be on their toes. Nothing can be predicted in a startup environment and employees have to be ready to face whatever comes their way. They need to be prepared to solve any problem that may arise, and presence of mind is a key quality that will help them come up with effective and creative solutions. They should also be capable of picking themselves up after failing, accepting responsibility for their mistakes and moving on having learnt from them.

These are just the bare essentials, there are other traits like having a sense of humour or being a good talker that will make a potential employee better suited for a startup’s culture. Do not be impulsive when it comes to hiring, especially while making decisions about your first hires. Having a good core team will set the foundations for the faster growth and smoother progress of your business.


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