Five Interviewing Tips While Recruiting for an Early Stage Company

Early stage companies have to make every hire really count. For most, staff numbers and budget are limited, and growing the business is of the utmost importance. Because start-up teams pretty much influence so many decisions, we will share five tips, so your company can recruit some great new hires it might currently be missing:

1) Know what you’re recruiting for.
Of course, you need to know what specific skills you want for the role.  But more important, you need to know the culture you want for your team, and the types of people you want.  Then you have to set the bar for greatness and be 100% sure you nail your must-haves, and that the candidate raises the bar on at least a few dimensions.

2) Know what you’re going to ask the candidates.
You should have prepared before the interview, and have your questions planned (and you should have used your questions with candidates previously, so that you know what a great answer looks like)

3) Use a behavior interviewing technique.
Once you know what you’re looking for, ask repeatedly for them to give you examples from their past where they demonstrated those characteristics.  Dig into their answers.  Tell them what their role was on the team.  How did they know they achieved the goal, or failed.  What did they do change based on what they learned, and what was the person’s specific ownership/deliver element with that?

4) Take a lot of notes during the interview.
What did you ask?  How did they answer?  Develop shorthand for flagging the good and bad, so you can distill it later, and/or ask follow-on questions.

5) Develop a firm opinion.
Are they a strong hire?  A Hire?  A No Hire?  Or, a dreaded Strong No Hire?  Be ready to explain to the other interviewers why you said so, and be able to explain the questions you asked, and where they fell short.  This is where your notes are critical.

There are a few other tips/tricks in there — this Slideshare presentation, including:

Questions to ask at beginning/end of interviews, and why:

  1. What did you do to prepare for this interview?
  2. What 3 changes do you think we need to make to our product, to blow away our customers
  3. What 3 adjectives would your past co-workers/managers use to describe you?

It makes it so much easier to spot passion & preparedness when you interview several candidates on the same day, or in succession.

Get candidates to tell you the story of why it makes sense that your role is perfect for them (and you) and look out for evidences of ‘greatness’.

How to prepare all of the interviewers
Everyone should have assigned characteristics to interview for and agree that they will independently determine a hire/no-hire vote with detail supporting it; debrief within 24 hours.

HT: Dave Schappell’s blog.