In a lot of ways, the easiest part of being a startup is the part you do all on your own. No one is as driven as you are to get your business up and running. No one is as passionate about making your idea into a reality. No one can deliver the sales pitch like you can, whether it’s to potential investors, incubator acceptance boards, or your grandmother’s investment group at the retirement community centre.
Finding people who share that same level of passion is tough to find in the startup realm.
“Hire the best people you can find,” says Bijan Sabet, general manager of Spark Capital. “You will sleep better at night.”
But how do you weed out the best people from the rest of the applications that will come soaring in once you post your job listing online? Because without a doubt, interviewing for your startup is a tough task.
For starters, you’re going to be dealing with mainly young people. For that purpose there are a few things you need to know about them, according to a report from Inc.com.
First is that 64 per cent of Millennials would rather make £40.000 at a job they love than £100.000 at a job they think is boring. Second is that 46 per cent of Millennials left their last job due to a lack of career growth. These two factors mean that the sharp minds you’re looking for are out there, and willing to work on the cheap. It’s up to you to stimulate their minds and convince them that your company is the fast track to a higher position.
So now that you know who you might be hiring, the time has come to set up some interviews. If you’re running a startup, it’s doubtful you have a hiring manager, which means you’ll be doing a lion’s share of the vetting process and most or all of the interviews yourself.
This means you’ll want to be able to slice and dice through the fluff of resumes and cover letters and get down to what makes each person tick and what they can bring to your company’s equation. Here then are five must-ask questions when you begin interviewing for your startup.
1.Where Do You See The Industry Going?
Ask this first, because you can weed out a bunch of the fakers immediately with it. There are plenty of people that will see an advertisement for “SEO’ or “Social Media Manager” or “Marketing” and put their resume in without a second thought to what field the company exists in. When you ask this question first, it immediately disqualifies anyone who didn’t bother researching what it is your company does or what the industry as a whole looks like.
Think of this is a crucial first question when interviewing for your startup that will filter out the highest quality candidates.
2.Would You Rather Be An Expert At Many Things Or One Thing?
Depending on what you specifically need, both answers can be “right”, but for many startups, the first few people you’ll be hiring will need to be comfortable wearing a host of different hats. In 2010, I was hired as a blog writer for a startup covering professional tennis. Within a few days they realised I was a good editor, and I started proofing everyone’s blogs while still writing my own.
From there it was on to video script writing, voice-over work, a couple of ‘acting’ credits in viral videos, to eventually designing the company’s first online magazine. This is a great question to ask when interviewing for your startup that will help you find specialists and people who can potentially fill a variety of roles when required.
3.What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?
A pretty standard question whether it’s a job interview or a first date. You’re not looking for a hardened answer here, but there is the idea of the workplace culture to consider. If your company makes mountain bikes and you envision your staff hitting the back roads on weekends to ride together and get some fresh air, then someone who answers the question with “Stay inside and play Halo and Skyrim all day” might not be your first choice.
4.What’s Your Dream Job?
This is a common question you’ll need to ask when interviewing for your startup. However, if they answer “this one” feel free to smack them upside the head and show them out. They don’t even know what this one is yet! But in all seriousness, it’s great to hear answers because you’re getting an inside look at what makes people tick. If they say “CEO of Google” then you’re probably looking at someone who will jump ship within six months.
But if you get a person who answers “something that lets me be creative and really help people,” you’ve found yourself a winner. They haven’t set specific parameters in terms of salary or prestige, but only in how the job makes them feel.
5.Where Do You See This Company In 5 Years, And What Would Help Us Get There?
The easy, yet rather snooty answer here would be “me”, but this is another great litmus test question to see how much people have researched your company and your industry. If you sell flavoured water in health clubs across a very small section of London, your 5-year plan might be to have them in groceries, health clubs, and convenience stores by 2022.
But breaking the oligarchy held by the likes of Gatorade and Powerade will prove daunting without intelligent social media marketing. If the interviewee doesn’t even know what you do or what your industry consists of, they’ll never be able to formulate a reasonable answer off the top of their head and must be sent home.
Think of this as a make or break question when interviewing for your startup.
Final Words: Interviewing For Your Startup
As you know, interviewing for your startup is an important activity you may need to do at some point. If you’re a startup founder or a manager in charge of interviewing for your startup then make sure you ask the questions in this blog post because every one is crucial when interviewing for your startup.
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