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Can they thrive in your start-up environment?


I’m going to devote a space on the blog each Monday to hiring- always a key factor in any start-up. 

Today, I’m going to focus on what I think is the critical question when hiring a new employee for your start-up:

Can they thrive in your start-up environment?

The lure of start-ups is great- “everyone’s going to be rich!”  “I’ll be employee number 7!”  “My title is Vice President”- lots of people want to work at startups but not everyone is suited for it- especially early stage startups.   

Well, that’s fine, but how do you go about determining whether or not your candidate will work out well? 

Here are three ways to answer this critical question:

1.    Consulting first-  If at all possible, sign them up for a consulting gig that mirrors their activities for your company.  This is especially good for product/project management people as well as developers.  It gives you a chance to evaluate how well they interact with the team, the quality of their work, and insights into how to manage them well.

2.    Interview process- Well, Duh.  Except that any candidate can easily answer the question on whether or not they can thrive in a start-up environment (Yes! Of course- I can’t wait to send faxes from the deli).  You need to create an interview environment which mirrors the current situation you’re company is in.  This is a fine balance between appearing too chaotic as a company and giving both parties the ability to evaluate. 
    Move them around from conference room (if you have one) to conference room (you have 2?- Wow)- change interviewers (critical for evaluation anyway), put them in a meeting with parts of the team and invite their participation.  The best way to do this is to have a script that everyone follows- don’t repeat questions, and don’t surprise current employees- that can be a disaster on both sides.   

3.    Assign a project-  Why not?-  As Guy Kawasaki says, you want to hire infected people.  If you’ve done your side of the recruitment game (more on that in future posts), they’ll be infected and will jump at the chance to prove that they can fit into your organization.  Give them a tight deadline.  Limit their resources.  Demand a lot.  Just like a start-up.   This is not about the right answers- this is about the enthusiasm the candidate displays and how they take on the task- that’s what informs you how well they’ll fit into your organization.

In the coming weeks I’ll cover more hiring topics; more specifics on interviewing, recruiting, probation periods, and more- email me with any topics you might want covered. 


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About The Ineo Group Llc

  • The Ineo Group Llc is an advisory capital company working primarily with pre-funding companies. It's currently a group of one, me, Charles Smith, a 10-year veteran of succesful startups Real Media and Tacoda. This blog will be a guide of how I think about start-ups and other topics that interest me. Enjoy!

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