Rough Bullet Points on Hiring at a Startup

In this rough note, I will highlight how I think about hiring and onboarding at a startup. This should best be handled by the CEO at the beginning before any delegation takes place.

The framework is in bullet points as it is a rough draft of how I think about this process:

  1. Identify the gap that you want to fill. What problem do you need to solve?
  2. Do you need a new hire or can you give the problem to an existing person?
  3. Come up with a plan of what needs to get done to solve the problem. Explain the problem, outline the solution at a high-level, list out the steps and deliverables, set a timeline for each of these.
  4. Come up with a JD based on the problem, solution and deliverables set. Come up with commission structure where applicable and add to the JD.
  5. Craft a challenge for them to do if they are a promising candidate. This is to confirm if they have the skills they claim.
  6. Craft questions based on the JD, which will challenge and probe the knowledge of the candidate on their stated skills in their CV and what you are looking for in the JD. (Do this before the call with your 1st candidate - don't wing this)
  7. Identify people who can do what is on the JD. Use LinkedIn, referrals and so on.
  8. Craft a message and reach out to your prospective list of people about the opportunity
  9. For positive responses, send them an video call invite for a preliminary call to learn more about them. Don't forget to ask them for their CV and LinkedIn. Additionally ask for their Behance or GitHub for a designer or developer respectively.
  10. For negative responses, thank them for taking the time to consider the opportunity as you close the interaction.
  11. Prepare for the call by going through their CV, LinkedIn and other resources.
  12. Once on the call, set ground rules on introductions where your team introduces themselves first then the candidate
  13. Start by introducing yourself and the organisation you work for. Explain the vision and who you achieve it. Let your other colleagues introduce themselves
  14. Let the candidate introduce themselves.
  15. Ask general questions as follows:
    1. What project have you worked on that you are most proud of? Walk us through how you implemented it from start to finish
    2. Why did you pursue the current profession or skill that you have right now?
  16. Get into the more specific questions that you crafted based on the JD, the candidate's experience at a certain company/technology/project/campaign .etc.
  17. Ask questions about company culture and what culture they enjoy and don't enjoy
  18. Ask them about what they know about the industry that your organisation is in and why it matters to them
  19. Ask the candidate about the budget. How much do they expect to be paid?
  20. Ask them where they see themselves in the next 5 years
  21. Open the floor for the candidate to ask any questions
  22. If there are no more questions, close the meeting by thanking the candidate and assure them that you will get back to them with a decision.
  23. Let the candidate leave the call. Once that happens, discuss with your colleagues on the verdict. They will be of 3 types:
    1. Yes - the candidate is good and should proceed to the next stage like meeting a senior manager and doing the challenge
    2. Maybe - there is doubt in this candidate. Before setting a meeting with a senior manager, get them to do the challenge and assess their performance
    3. No - prepare a declined email or message for the candidate and close that chapter respectfully.
  24. If a candidate passes the interviews and the challenge, invite them for a negotiation meeting physically at your offices.
  25. If the candidate fails either the interview with a senior manager or the challenge, send a decline email with feedback
  26. Before the negotiation meeting, draft a contract for the role and introduce the JD, commission structure, length of the contract and compensation you expect. Leave the start and end date of the contract blank.
  27. Present the compensation structure and negotiate. It is a plus to have a HR manager with you. They have experience with this process.
  28. Once the candidate agrees, agree on a start date and an expected timeline to submit their signed contract which should be immediately in the meeting or 2 days max.
  29. If the candidate declines, respectfully accept, thank them for their time and move on
  30. Before the candidate joins the organisation on the start date, ensure they have the necessary tools to get started immediately on that day. That includes an email address, access to any communication channels, biometrics for the office, access to any work-related material, onboarding content to learn more about the organisation, a work laptop or phone and so on.
  31. Once, they join the organisation, let them meet the team at an all-hands or weekly team meeting. Let them introduce themselves, their role and so on.
  32. Have a meeting to get them started on their deliverables. Brief them on the deliverables and the set timelines.
  33. Set 2 to 3 meetings in a week to check on their progress, even if it is just for 15 minutes. Keep them accountable on their deliverables.

I hope you find this note helpful. Thank you and stay grinding.