Blog: The Status Quo Can Be dangerous

Hiring Smart Selecting the Right Person

At some time, a startup will have to hire people as they expand in many cases to fill the voids that the original team can’t do. Although some founders don’t like to hear this, the time arrives when not only key positions need to be hired, but maybe it is also necessary to find a replacement for the CEO. Before starting the interview process, I believe the company needs to believe that they are the best game in town. The objective should be to find the best people available – Superstars to help continue the growth. Therefore, the effort should not begin by compromising before putting a financial cap on the position.

There can be three simple steps: is there a good chemistry, can the applicant meet the criteria for the job and is there a fit with the company culture. After the person with the “right stuff” is found a discussion on compensation can start. It should be expected the candidate’s present employer will make counter offers and produce other incentives to try to get the candidate to stay. As a result, a star will have to be to pulled out kicking and screaming from their present company.

Since the new hiring team may be very inexperienced, they could be influenced by hiring someone, like a friend or advisor recommends, or be overly impressed by a person’s background and their story. The list below is based on my experience over several decades. One technique I used after some failures was to do a SWAT analysis to define the voids that might to limit the growth. When it comes to hiring “STARS” I recommend that the following situations be followed to prevent hiring the wrong person. The conditions I present may be very harsh to some and I’ll give you an example. A good friend running the IT department in her company had to cut one of the senior staff and asked me if I would take time to interview the person. I said no and this really shocked my friend and she asked why. My response, “Give me the name or names of the people who survived the cut not to go”.

Like any list of ‘don’t’ these are guide lines and not absolutes

  1. So Don’t hire someone who is currently unemployed. While this won’t sit well with the millions of unemployed, remember, we are looking for a superstar. The person has to be in demand.
  2. Don’t hire someone who has jumped from job to job too soon. Instability is a drawback in any position.
  3. Don’t hire someone who has followed their boss from job to job. You will seldom find a leader among those who have followed someone all their careers, and a Superstar is a leader, not a follower.
  4. Don’t hire someone who isn’t focused. This person is generally responsive to any job and doesn’t make it clear what they are interested in. They don’t really know where they are going.
  5. Don’t hire someone who made more money in two previous jobs, and don’t hire someone who will take a significant pay cut. There may be some sound reason the candidate wants to join the company, but if the candidate will accept less pay than two previous jobs, the mind set of your candidate is wrong. Someone who isn’t ambitious on their own behalf will probably not be ambitious for you either.
  6. Don’t hire someone who has done no research on the company before the interview. Why hire someone who is not interested enough in the company to find out something about it?
  7. Don’t hire someone who has not been with a winner company). Once a person has had a taste of being on the winning team, nothing else will do — they must get there again.
  8. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t seem basically intelligent, who has no common sense. It is amazing how good a person sounds when they know all about a specific job they have done for years. However, you need to make sure they can walk across the street without jeopardizing traffic.
  9. Don’t hire someone who has failed to achieve success in their previous (current) company. Do you really want to hire a CFO from a company going bankrupt? Or an engineering manager who hasn’t released a newly designed product in years?
  10. Don’t hire someone who will accept any job available – janitor to brain surgeon. This just demonstrates how desperate a person is.
  11. Don’t hire someone who was fading or being put aside in their previous company. In the reference check, find someone to decode all the fancy titles that may indicate this condition.
  12. Don’t hire someone who has worked in the industry for several years, consistently earning far below the norm. This strongly indicates that the person has a problem and would be crazy to inherit it voluntarily.

Searching for someone to fill a key position requires patience when it comes to personnel. Having nothing for an extended period of time is often better than settling for something much less than what is needed. Remember, it is important for a person to hit the ground running, and not require training. If searches are conducted intelligent and patient superstars can be found. And finally, and most important, at the top look for people with passion.