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The Top 3 Myths that are Preventing You from Hiring the Best Talent!

Hey Fellow Founders/CEOs and People Leaders,

We have so many assumptions about hiring great talent, especially for early-stage, scaling Start-Ups. Today I want to bust those myths and prevent you from making the same mistakes that so many Founders have made before.

Myth #1: I don’t have time to do all these interviews!
The truth is, you can’t afford not to!
I have seen it over and over again. As soon as those investors hand you the first millions, whether it’s Seed Money or Series A, all of a sudden your diary is packed with things you never had to think about, or worry about before. Coming at you are monthly Board Decks, countless check-in calls, inquiries, other potential investors, other founders, sales people and advisors. Soon, you are scheduling, rescheduling, canceling or flat-out missing interviews. But the thing is, if I may be so bold: selecting your new team, especially your Leadership team, is the single most important item in your diary.

There is a story about a Founder who hardly ever made it to a scheduled interview. He was just way too busy! He was also the most critical about the speed of hiring and wondered why all the hires the company was making were for every department but his! Trust me, you will never hire anyone if you never meet them and your company reputation and Employer Brand will suffer if you no-show or half show or re-schedule again and again. These days, candidates tell their experience online for all to see – so make it a good one.

Carve 30 minutes first thing in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day for Recruitment Admin (Interview Evaluations, share feedback to the Recruitment team to better calibrate on candidates, job specs and overall employer branding).
Batch your interviews. Set aside dedicated hours for interviews so the rest of your day can be dedicated to your other important work. For hyper-growth mode, this can be as much as 3-4 hours within a day. Personally, I never interview on Mondays or Friday afternoons as a general rule, to ensure there is at least one full day in the week to Get ‘stuff’ Done and time to close the week strong. As an example, set up a scheduling-link just for interviews that your team can share on your behalf – offer consistent interview times for Tues – Friday 10:00 – 12:00/13:00 and limit initial interviews to 30 minutes, allowing 45 min for deeper sessions with leadership roles or case study reviews.
Interview the short list candidates for a particular role within a few days of each other if possible to better compare and validate fit. Spread too far apart, you might forget the details of each candidate.

Myth #2: Candidates are willing to make far less money at a start-up. They are happy to be part of our exciting growth story.
Dear Founder, please know even the most loyal and motivated employees will never love the company you have created as much as you do. As Founders we often, especially at the beginning, draw little to no income. That’s just how it goes. But your employees are not volunteers.
Know what the market is paying by validating with experts. With a very small budget you can gain access to professional compensation studies that can be sorted by location, sector, level and functional specialty. Candidates expect to be paid fairly and competitively no matter how excited they are to join. I once worked with someone who would look at a candidate’s salary history and immediately reduce it by 25-30% and make them an offer. He told me if someone really wanted to work for his company they would be willing to come for much less than they are making now. Needless to say, this company had the lowest conversion rate of applicants to hire and highest turnover of employees of any firm I have ever worked with in 30 years of working! Not a recipe for success.
If you are already in hyper-growth and scaling fast, you need to overhire for most roles. You will be requiring experience levels not for the company you are today, but for the company you will be. Know how high is too high and find the right balance between over-hiring and ‘out-of-your league.’ I have seen this many times as well. Founders reaching for the person with 15+years of experience and a comp package they cannot afford when 7-10 years experience will do. Over-hire by just the right amount.

Assumption #3: The candidates should consider themselves lucky to work here. We are going to be BIG….soon!
Candidates and current employees can often be excited to see you in the press getting your first batch of millions, but in the end there is still some selling involved.
Make sure you know what other start-ups are offering for benefits, and if possible, have some special differentiators (personal development budgets, internal growth programs) to offer.
Pay attention to the current trends for working conditions. I experienced a situation where all employees had to come to the office everyday, just as most other employers were offering remote or at the very least, hybrid working models. Some candidates dropped out of the process in the first five minutes of learning this was a mostly in-office position. Candidates want choice, flexibility and trust.