Building a team is like buying a house...
Post funding a lot of start ups go on a shopping spree, hiring people left right and centre... It's important to have a little perspective when building a team.
An annual salary is no small deal. It's similar to a deposit for buying a house, 10s of thousands of pounds! Employing someone isn't a decision that should be taken lightly...
At Apply.Property we wanted to build a small team of multi disciplinary people, we knew rigorous interviewing would be key. Here are some of our experiences:
1. Get Applicants
Put the word out there, it's often possible to get great people through your network. Think LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and through everyday conversations. We also did some advertising on:
Work in StartUps
Escape The City
Most University Career Service Websites (it's free)
This drove a huge number of job applicants. Rather than becoming inundated with CV's we asked everyone to fill out a google form Interview Questionnaire.
Doing this saved a HUGE amount of time. We could quickly and easily analyse the applicants. We then drew up a short list of people who stood out.
The next step was a brief phone interview with each person, for me to get a feel for what they were like.
3. Test Test Test
Once I had decided our top list of applicants it was time to set up some interviews with Bilal and myself. To make this easy we scheduled them over video.
We scheduled all the interviews on a Sunday, we wanted to see who didn’t have an issue doing work on a Sunday.
About 2 hours before the interview we sent each candidate a last minute challenge. We wanted to see how they could respond under pressure and in a short amount of time. Start up life involves fighting fires, staying cool and responding quickly and professionally is a key skill. Some of the responses we got here were excellent, they really separated the wheat from the chaff...
The final test was coming to a client meeting. This is the ideal opportunity for a candidate to de-risk their career decision. A chance to see a client provide unfiltered feedback on our business. Why would anyone ever consider joining a company without doing this? Applicants that didn't want to do this were an instant fail. Taking applicants to client meetings was a great way to see how they performed in a real business situation.
4. Beware the rotten apples
There is an old saying that "I'd rather have a hole, than an asshole". One bad hire can be a disaster. To mitigate this we have our rigorous interview process but sometimes it fails. So our back up is a two week trial period, followed by a three month probationary period.
A funny story, one of my favourite applicants turned out to be a dodged bullet. Fortunately
the applicant didn't make it through our applicant process. But at interview they had told me that one of their family members was very ill. A few weeks after we had filled the position I thought it would be kind to reach out and see how their family member was, purely out of sympathy, with no hidden agenda. The response I got was acidic to say the least. The irony in their email footer was not lost on me!
It just goes to show that it's incredibly hard to find the right people, appearances can be deceiving....