Top 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Recruiting (#5 Can Cost You)

Top 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Recruiting (#5 Can Cost You)

A company is only as good as its people—and if you’re currently in the process of building your team as a founder, then, of course, you want to hone in on the absolute best candidates for the job. Still, the recruiting process can be painstaking and time-consuming—especially for a start-up. From opening up the call for applications to sifting through resumes, screening candidates, and scheduling interviews, there are many steps to hiring even one new employee. Combine that with the fact that today’s job market is becoming increasingly competitive for employers (especially with the millennial generation hitting the job market) and you’ve got even further potential for complications.

To help us get more insights on how to navigate the job market, we sat down with Mia Merrill, Head of People & Culture at Nomad. Mia previously headed up recruitment for Interplay Ventures and helped co-found Candid Entrepreneur so she was a great person to help us better understand hiring in tech & startup ecosystem. Here are some of our takeaways from our conversation with Mia Merrill.

1. Know Who You Are

Every person you hire will play a key role in shaping your company’s culture, but they won’t meld themselves to the culture.  They should define and share the values you cherish most.  But before you even begin the recruiting process, it’s imperative that you sit down and develop a true understanding of your culture and the values that define your company. Finding people who share similar values and who are aligned with your long-term vision isn’t easy, but it is simply impossible when you as a founder have not figured it out for yourself.  

2. Define the Role

In addition to knowing who you are, you need to know what you desire from a candidate in terms of technical skills and overall fit. Defining the traits and skills for success with each role you create seems obvious but often times companies do not put enough thought into this process. Build a robust job description that not only includes desired skills and experience but outlines what success looks like in the role.  Candidates should have clarity on what is expected, and strong candidates will be attracted to goals they can push themselves to achieve while weaker ones will shy away.  

Even if you have an idea of what you want to target, bringing in other members of your internal team into this process will also increase your odds of ensuring that you find the right match for your company’s needs.

3. Start With Team Referrals

Your employees are the best people to help you find candidates. They are the ones doing the day-to-day tasks and have a strong grasp of the company’s people and culture. They are the ones who would best know what it takes to be successful in the given roles. Using your team’s network is a great way to bring in qualified candidates, not to mention candidates that come in through referrals have a higher likelihood of succeeding in the role.

4. Finding the Ideal Job Candidate

As you prepare for interviews and screening processes for a given position, there are some additional tips worth keeping in mind to help you find that ideal candidate.

Ask Real Questions

You already know what those “standard” interview questions are because you’ve likely answered them yourself in the past. Asking a candidate about their strengths/weaknesses or asking them to describe how they overcame a workplace challenge is fine, but keep in mind that your candidates are likely going to expect these questions and rehearse for them accordingly. By coming up with truly unique questions that cannot be anticipated before an interview or pushing for strong examples of their experience and history, you’ll be in a better position to gauge whether a candidate is truly a good fit for the job, aligns with the culture, and is authentic in their responses. This is a great opportunity to leverage your team for thoughtful questions.

Give Them Homework

Another way to gauge how serious a candidate is about a position is to give them homework before or after an interview; send them home with a “quiz” or give them a project to complete. Only the most serious candidates will do this and give it their all; this can also be a great way to evaluate a candidate’s ability to follow directions and complete specific tasks.

Get Everyone’s Input

While you may have the ultimate say in who gets hired for which positions, don’t be afraid to ask for advice for input from your current employees or partners (if you have any). More than likely, if one of your existing employees doesn’t think a particular candidate is going to be a good fit for the company, there’s a good reason as to why this will be the case and you should take that opinion seriously.

5. Don’t Ignore Cultural Fit

Always consider a candidate’s overall fit with the company, which goes well beyond just their technical skills. Startup life is not for everyone so founders must have the acumen to assess the soft skills required to be successful in such an environment. Employees need to be ambitious and find their work truly energizing and rewarding, as well as to be adaptable to constant change. The willingness to roll up your sleeves and put on new hats is critical in any hire in your early stages.

Many folks, for all the right reasons, believe they can make the change.  But when it’s just not a fit, they eventually become disillusioned, frustrated, and deeply unhappy.

6. Never Just “Good Enough”

Perhaps above all else, never hire somebody who’s “good enough” because you’re in a pinch and feel you need to make a decision. Bad decisions are made out of desperation.  If a candidate doesn’t check off all the boxes, it’s better to move on. The last thing your company needs is to waste time, money, and resources on recruiting and onboarding an employee who isn’t going to work out in the long-term. Hiring the wrong person is significantly worse than having a role unfilled, and it will certainly be more expensive and far more painful.

Recruiting employees for your business can be especially nerve-racking for founders, especially when you consider everything that’s at stake. Still, by keeping these tips in mind and always keeping your company’s values and goals at the forefront of your decision-making, you’ll be in good shape.


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