Hiring and Team building is the toughest challenge in a tech-start-up. A high quality product cannot be built by average talent. Superstar techies are the soul of a successful tech start-up. Finding the right blend of technical mindset and entrepreneurial attitude needs a lot of patience and hard-work. The whole process of selling job-profile, scheduling and conducting interviews takes away substantial management bandwidth. While hiring process can never be fool-proof, the more hand-picking is done, the better. It needs a lot of self-motivation to maintain the quality. Below I am sharing some best practices based on my experience.
- Strong screening of CV should be done internally. This work should not be outsourced. An outside recruiter will focus on quantity and not quality. If you can afford an internal HR person, make sure to get the smartest person who does the job with full dedication.
- Technical interviews should focus on hands-on programming. Truth unleashes only when somebody writes actual code. To cut the travel costs for face-to-face interviews, Google Docs or other similar tools can be used for live document sharing.
- Evaluate past experience and projects done. Evaluate if the person did only the assigned task or goes beyond expectations. Passionate coders will not stop talking of their past achievements. Job-hoppers give best interviews because that is the only thing they do. Need for achievement should be given more weight-age than the technical acumen.
- Team-work is NOT the necessary quality. Super-geeks are nerds who do not like intervention. Such guys can alone do the work of two.
- Specific technical expertise is NOT the necessary quality. With right aptitude and urge to learn, technology can be grasped in days.
- College text books do not teach everything, college projects do. A self-driven coder would have done enough hard-work in college projects. Hobby projects and technology interests should also be discussed in detail. Such information is not there in CVs.
- Big companies (mostly) fail in utilization of best resources. Identify if the focus is on learning or earning. Start-ups are about facing new technology challenge everyday. Person should be driven by milestones and not processes. Reference checks should be done on doubtful candidates. Competitors could be knocking to rob your intellectual property.
- Avoid close relatives. Personal commitments in hiring should be kept at bay. Competitive environment cannot be build having relatives working on same product lines.
- A bad hire is worse than not hiring. Say No when you don’t want to say a Yes. Hiring mistakes should be corrected sooner than later.
- Higher rejection rate = Higher success rate of project. Hit rate of 1 in 20 is acceptable. Patience is the key.
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