Startups force entrepreneurs to acquire new skills on the fly while reacting to rapidly changing business demands, but no one can keep up the hectic pace. Sooner or later, you’ll have to take the plunge and add a team member to help you chase your dream.
If you hire the wrong person, you could break your startup. Worse: if you get it wrong on the first go, you may never again be in a position to give it another try.
This new era of remote work has brought us loads of new technology and internet tools that claim to make the hiring of talent as easy as clicking a few buttons. But how can you make sure that your prospective hire shares your vision, goals, and integrity? It’s easy to miss small indications that this might not be the case. By the time you realize that your new hire habitually contracts a debilitating bout of the snuffles right before every deadline, it may be too late.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to help you sniff out detrimental work behavioral patterns before hiring someone.
Skills are important, but so are attributes
Ambitious, hungry entrepreneurs tend to spend far more time with their employees and business partners than with friends and loved ones. It’s imperative that you find someone with strong work ethics, and who has values that correspond to your own, in addition to the skillset that you are looking to acquire.
In some fields, you can test the competence of your prospective hire with simple task-based tests. However, for a startup, it could be vastly more important to ensure that your team’s ethics and moral values are aligned than to hold out for an absolute expert in every field.
Confidence and Trust in the era of remote working
Our new remote work tools may be sophisticated, but most of us still need to adapt to the changed social implications of full-time remote work. In the past, we could measure the value of newcomers against a backdrop of established office dynamics. Now, cast outside of that reassuring formal structure, we need a new way of judging integrity.
Stick to the old rules of vetting a prospective hire
Remember that your new hire may well hold the keys to your future, so read that Curriculum Vitae and fact-check the contents.
- Many people use LinkedIn to check employment history as it’s easy to follow timelines and identify possible references via previous workplace details.
- Check the supporting documents too. Fraudulent claims to formal education, such as a degree, are a nasty reality.
- Ask for a portfolio, sample projects, or references. Previous clients, former employers or employees, and colleagues can also provide skills assessments or a personality appraisal.
- Conduct a formal interview. Video conferences are fast becoming the norm, but many individuals find it hard to convey their value proposition while staring at a camera. It is better to schedule a series of interviews so you can explore different topics and personality aspects. This system will allow both you and your prospective hire to move past any initial discomfort with technology.
Broaden your view of the candidate
Our social media profiles have become a constant, not-quite-discreet backdrop to everyday life, with loads of ‘private life’ information spilling over into our professional lives. In keeping with this phenomenon, research has shown that prospective employers include candidates’ social media profiles in their decision-making process, so savvy job seekers have started to prune and polish their public image with sparkling social media profiles.
It’s a good marketing strategy for professionals, which means it is a bad idea to hire someone based on a great social media profile. It’s prudent to dig a little deeper.
Heed your hunches
It’s great if you and your new hire get along like a house on fire because most entrepreneurs quickly learn to harness employees’ individual vitality for a synergistic business approach. Charisma and charm go a long way.
However, the bedrock of your working relationship is the certainty that your team will be there, every step of the way, for every single project. If you have any lingering concerns, go beyond social media to get a broader idea of your candidate’s personality.
Cheesy but true: The power of the internet
Despite our best efforts, almost every aspect of our lives will eventually find its way onto the internet. Official information is often publicly available, and you can, for example, find anyone’s home address and property transactions online with ease. Prospective employers may feel the need to dig a little deeper.
While a simple keyword search on Google should reveal plenty of sources of further information, it’s much faster to use a reputable people-search site with expanded search capabilities. Nuwber can render an in-depth profile drawn from legal databases, financial and property records, plus a range of social media profiles that may include information about internet activities like shopping or gaming habits.
It is becoming almost routine to run queries on people-search sites, especially when a clean criminal record is non-negotiable.
Stay light on your feet
There should be no need to reiterate the importance of a proper contract, yet many startups overlook this basic step. Stipulate your expectations and draw up a legal agreement – with an exit plan – before you go any further. If you did your research well you may never need that exit plan, but if things go wrong, you’ll be able to get out of an unsatisfactory situation fast before your startup incurs lasting harm.