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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

10 common mistakes when hiring for an early-stage startup

Early-stage startups are small and so every person is therefore important to the team which leaves little room for bad hires. The wrong person in the wrong role can be disastrous. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when recruiting your team.

Don’t make the hiring decision based solely on job history. Just because somebody has been in big tech before and worked for some of the big names doesn’t automatically make them the right fit. The big tech companies have had bad employees before as well.

Don’t be unprepared. As a founder don’t arrogantly strut into the interview without doing preparation thinking you can wing it. Your interviews should be planned and done consistently across candidates. Understand the role you are hiring for and what that role will be doing from day one.

Don’t have a vague idea of what great looks like. If you don’t know in advance who your ideal candidate is in advance then how will you possibly find them?

Don’t devalue titles by giving them to everyone. Startups don’t need as many chiefs as you think. Try and avoid giving every new hire a chief role. My advice is you don’t hire any C-suite people before you hit at least 100 people. Generally wait until they prove themselves and earn the titles.

Don’t just turn friends into employees. If they’re good enough by all means consider hiring them. But in the office, you can’t treat them like friends. You need to treat them like anyone else and hold them to the same standard.

Don’t try to be popular. If you try to be everyone’s friend and make them like you, then you aren’t fulfilling your role as a founder. Your day-to-day will generally be having difficult conversations with people. The decisions you need to make won’t always be popular.

Don’t wait for the perfect fit. Delaying hiring until you find the perfect candidate can be costly. By all means, try to find the right candidate but be prepared to settle for less than perfection.

Don’t hire undefined roles. Hiring people to just do a bit of everything never works out well in the long-term. People should have specific roles and responsibilities, even if they will naturally change overtime.

Don’t forget a great onboarding process. People need to be onboarded, trained and introduced to your startup’s culture. As a founder, you need to ensure these processes are in place.

Don’t cheap out on salary. Below-average salaries will often attract below-average talent. Don’t use being a startup as an excuse to underpay your new hires.

The people in your startup matter and a lot of your growth and success hinges on the success of your new hires. Avoiding these 10 mistakes will improve the quality of your new hires and the likelihood that they contribute to your success.


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