Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a story about “Employees Find Start-Ups Quick to Hire and Fire”. It’s an interesting (and somewhat tragic) piece as it highlights one of the classic challenges you face as a startup founder: The moment you have some funding in the bank you’re most likely rushing to find talent (as you need people to build the thing you want to build). People make or break companies — that’s especially true for startups.
With that being said — how do you strike the balance between getting people fast and finding the right ones?
Let me suggest that you treat hiring like dating — there is little to no point in hiring just to fill your job req. Interviewing can be inherently tricky — it’s hard enough for someone with years of interview training to figure out if a candidate is truly capable and a proper cultural fit; if you’re new to the game it’s just plain hard. The easiest and most reliable way to figure out if a candidate works out is to have her work with you. Some of my friends adopted a system where you ask a candidate (after you interviewed them and feel strongly about their skills and cultural fit) to simply come into your office and spend anything between a day and a week with you and your team. Pay them for their effort and let them work on something which is indicative of their future responsibility. Throw them into the deep end and see how they fare. How do they interact with the rest of the team? How do they tackle problems? What is their communication style?
And for people you expect to spend a whole bunch of time with (say a C-level hire) — get them out for a weekend and see if you are compatible on the human level.
It’s an amazing way to get to know each other better (the same is true for the candidate — you want to make sure that they feel strongly about you as well) and eliminates most of the problems you face in the traditional interview/hiring process.
It takes a bit longer than your average process — but the results will speak for themselves. And if you encounter a candidate who isn’t willing to do this — they are not the right person to begin with.