Ready and Raring To Go

October 22, 2023

This time, we passed the campus aunty question to Andrei (Head of People at Storehub)

Who is Campus Aunty? An in-house agony aunt spin-off answering our learning community’s sticky questions. This time, we passed the question to Andrei (Head of People at Storehub).

Hi Campus Aunty,

Our company is growing speedily and we need more hands-on-deck. We’ve been picking up on hiring, but we’re afraid that people we hire may not be able to hit the ground running upon joining. What’s your advise? How might we hire candidates who have a start-up mindset and are raring to go?

Thank you,

Looking Out

Hi Looking Out,

Thank you for reaching out with a question that so many fast-growing startups grapple with. Your concern is certainly valid — rapid scaling can be both an opportunity and a challenge, especially when it comes to hiring the right talent. I have seen this in my current and previous job in startups. Here are my learnings: 💡

Create a framework specific to your context. Prioritise your 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves’. Start with basic skills and knowledge as outlined in the job description, and fine-tune this by distinguishing between what’s negotiable and not:

  • Skills vs. Adaptability: For instance, if you're hiring for a Sales role and Salesforce proficiency is a key task, ask yourself, ‘Do I need someone who's an expert in Salesforce, or do I need someone who’s tech-savvy and can quickly adapt to different tools?’
  • Behavioral Traits: Identify the top 3-6 behavioral traits you expect. Whether it's giving straightforward feedback or a compassionate approach, align this with the overall culture you aim to build.
  • Values: Highlight the core values of your company and assess how a candidate's personal values align with them. For example, if integrity is a core value, assign it a specific weightage, say 25%, in the overall cultural fit score.
  • Technical Assessments: Develop skill-based assessments to gauge technical proficiency and problem-solving skills. For example, 'coding challenges' for tech roles or 'sales pitches' for sales roles.
  • Stages and Modes of Interviews: Segment your hiring process into clearly defined stages— initial HR screening, technical assessments, panel screening, and so on. Tailor the mode of interviews according to the role and its seniority level—this could range from 1:1 interviews to panel discussions or even practical demonstrations.
  • Scoring System: Implement a scoring system for each stage of the interview process. Define what constitutes a ‘no-hire,' 'hire,' and 'strong hire.' Assign weightage to different evaluation parameters.

Quality over Speed. Always. While I understand there might be immense pressure from various stakeholders (investors, leadership team), or simply from growing business needs (e.g. hiring more care agents to assist clients), it's crucial not to compromise on the quality of hires. Filling roles hastily can lead to poor cultural fit and performance, which can adversely affect key business metrics. For example, a misfit hire could take up to 50% longer to onboard, leading to an approximate increase of 20% in onboarding costs!

Spot-on Job Descriptions. Ensure your job descriptions are transparent, clear, and resonant with the kind of mindset and values you're looking for. A well-crafted job description not only acts as a natural filter for candidates but also sets realistic expectations, ensuring better alignment and, consequently, a smoother onboarding process.

Lead Generation and Sourcing:

  • LinkedIn Outreach: Allocate resources to scour LinkedIn for potential candidates who are active in startup circles, have worked in similar-paced environments, or show entrepreneurial traits. When you know your hiring funnel, it helps to know exactly how many leads you can get.
  • Referral Program: Establish a strong internal referral program. This allows your colleagues to advocate for your company values, and refer the kind of people they’d like to work with. If you referral rate is lower than 20%, something is definitely wrong - time to investigate!
  • Partnerships with Organizations: Collaborate with entrepreneurial organizations or youth NGOs like AIESEC, which can be a goldmine for talent with a startup mindset. (I love hiring AIESECers!)

Other than these, you can use trial periods and carefully planned onboarding processes to ensure your new hires are well-prepared to dive right in. If you feel overwhelmed despite your best efforts, you can always explore external expertise to offer an objective viewpoint, and potentially save you from costly hiring mistakes. The key is to be deliberate, patient and data-driven in your hiring processes.

Best of luck and happy hiring!