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Hiring a tech candidate? 5 things you must do first

Pawan Gupta, Co-founder, Curofy

Pawan Gupta, Co-founder, Curofy

So you have finally decided to expand your business. That, indeed, is a big decision. Whether you’re a professional whose practice has outgrown your available time, or an entrepreneur with dreams of growing the next Fortune 500 company, adding a new employee into the mix isn’t a process that should be taken lightly. To prevent costly mistakes and wastage of time, run through the following checkboxes before you click on the ‘publish’ button on that job-board.

The right fit for the right position

Assess the company’s existing needs, and fulfill these by hiring the person or filling the position that’s most likely to have an impact on the company’s bottom line. There’s no clear-cut answer for every business; so put some thought into what your company needs, and what it will take to meet your growth goals before bringing on a new employee. Lately, the emphasis has shifted from hiring an employee with a specific skill set to hiring employees who mesh with the company’s culture. Before beginning the hiring process, clearly define what is expected out of the new employee, and communicate this from the start. Always clearly define roles and expectations, and take the time to properly train and on-board them.

Sell your vision tactfully

The only way to get quality talent below market rates is to sell the vision, and sell it well. The team needs to feel like it is creating something that will change the world. As the business grows, and the vision is backed by traction, it gets easier. It’s relatively inexpensive to post job openings on traditional job-board sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed. One should also take advantage of niche sites specifically for startup jobs, like Angel List, Underdog.io, and VentureLoop. Be sure to elaborate on the company’s environment, mission, unique benefits and other impressive details. To help determine if the prospective candidate has the right personality for a particular job, it is important to help that person understand the company’s work environment. It is important to be open and honest about what it’s going to be like to work for the company, and to give a realistic preview of the work environment.

Look beyond the skill set

No matter what kind of business one runs, it is important to have quality employees to help the company grow. But finding the right employees can be taxing and more difficult than one would think. To hire the right person for the job, it is important to look past candidates’ resumes and cover letters, and learn more about them as the person they are. Employees need to have the skills and experience required to do the job, but they also need to fit in with the company culture and be willing to take direction and handle challenges as they come. “Social intelligence — being able to navigate social situations and work well with others — is very important,” said Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco-based psychologist. Don’t become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role, consider soft skills — like interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence — because they matter.

Assign projects and assignments

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right person, and it’s necessary to look at everything – stated skills, personality and references when making your selection. To ensure the candidate is the right fit for the company and the company is the right fit for her, each candidate should have a meeting with four or five different staff members individually. Have everyone on the team interview the candidates. If a few employees have concerns, it’s likely the candidate isn’t the right fit for the organisation. Post the vacant positions, take in a ton of applications, conduct interviews, and be picky. Most people who make it to an interview will be talented, but ensure that their talents align with your business objectives and the role for which they are interviewing. Create an agenda and a structure for the interview, including time limits. Work with HR, peers and your existing employees to develop a set of questions and topics in four categories: fact-finding, creative-thinking, problem-solving and behavioural. You can either invite people to Skype or phone interviews, or, if the pool is small enough, hold in-person interviews. Ask about candidates’ motivations, abilities, background, and why they want this job. Don’t forget this is a two-way interview—so highlight why your startup is an attractive career option. Ask the candidates to complete a project or task. If they are applying to be an engineer, have them do a code test. If they are applying to be the vice-president of sales, assign them a project that tests their skills in employing the right strategies and tactics for sales.

The final nail in the interview

There should be at least one interview in which fundamental Computer Science 101 style questions are asked. This is a make or break interview, which will help decide if the candidate is indeed fit for hiring. The questions can revolve around free/graph traversal, tree balancing, checking for cycles in data structures, shortest-path algorithms, Cartesian Product algorithms, most-efficient-access algorithms, etc. Once the interviewer has completed his/her questions, an opportunity must be given to the candidate to ask questions about the job and the organisation.

Making the wrong hiring decisions can turn out to be very costly. Creating an employee hiring roadmap can help pinpoint when and where additional expertise is needed. Take the time to do things the right way, and that will ensure that the first employee stays for a long haul—and is one of the greatest things to happen to the company in its early days.

Pawan Gupta is co-founder of Curofy, a networking app for doctors.

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