Tips To Improve Recruitment for Startups


Hiring is an important aspect of any startup; especially, if it has less number of employees. It is necessary for the few employees in a startup to be efficient, for the business to be successful.

Another criterion for the success of any startup is proper teamwork, and for this the team members need to be selected in such a way as to be compatible with each other. It is necessary to define your criteria for selection of candidates.

Let us look at some criteria for the selection of new candidates in a startup.

Before You Start

#1 Define Criteria for Judging

Many people start conducting interviews without giving much thought to what is important for them. This is the most ineffective method of recruiting in any organization and should be completely avoided. For a great outcome, you need to spend time and effort in planning.

It is a good idea to design a standardized form which is broken down into criteria like Intellect, Personality, Work Experience, Attributes required for this job and others with subcategories.

For instance, Work Experience can be broken down into:

  • has managed a team,
  • has led direct sales efforts,
  • has worked for a startup before

…and other factors. Score everybody on a scale of 1-10 on this form.

#2 Create a Process

You also need to create a process for recruiting people before you start. In the plan, you need to include facts like the databases that you want to use, a deadline for submissions, how candidates apply, when you will review the applications, when you will inform those not selected, when you will interview candidates and when you will select someone.

The reason why a process is very important is because if you get too far ahead of one candidate it becomes difficult to slow down, by the time you wait for others to come through the process.

At the same time, if you don’t get back to people who have applied within 3 weeks because you are waiting for others, then they might get agitated. Bear in mind that you may not hire 99.9% of the people who apply and the way you handle this process, will make a lot of difference to your brand image.

#3 Have a Good Pipeline of Candidates

Many people who recruit for startups, see only one or two candidates and take a decision. You may be in a rush, but the individual you hire is going to play an important part in your organization.

Hence, you should consider multiple candidates for each role. This will help you to benchmark in such a way that you only hire the best available person for the job.

#4 Use Referrals Where Possible

Referrals are often the best employees. It is advisable to hire a person that some trusted source has vouched for. A large part of your process is going to be outbound emails, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn messages to friends asking for help.

It is also a good idea to offer bounties to your existing employees if they refer other employees provided they join and stay for a minimum period of time.

#5 Pre-Interview Test

In some jobs, it is possible to test people before you spend time with them. One example of such a job is programming, where you can test candidates using some online tools. For a writing job, you can ask them to submit a sample in advance. Also, make sure that if a person does not live in your city, you should call them up and try to find out why they want to move.

It may be a spouse who just got admitted to med school, or they may have family members in your town. It is not a good idea to hire people who don’t have any reason to be in your town other than the job you are offering them.

The Interview

#1 Read the Resume Thoroughly

It is very common to find people reading the resume right in front of the candidate and not reading it in advance. This is very disrespectful and also wastes your precious interview time.

#2 Don’t Do a World Tour of the Resume

Many people make this mistake and offer the candidates a chance to do such a ‘World Tour’ of their resumes. This is a sheer waste as you learn very little because this is the practiced version of what the candidates want to tell you.

In fact, you should be driving the process of the interview and not them. For this, you can either say that you want a resume history in under 5 minutes or you can simply say that you would rather skip this step and go straight to the key jobs that you find most relevant.

#3 Do Deep Dive in Key Criteria Areas

If you are interviewing a sales candidate, then you should ask them to name and describe a sales campaign that they worked on. It is also a good idea to perform a proctology exam by asking them how they first heard about the lead and other details about the campaign.

The reason why you should do this deep dive is to gauge whether they really did what they have mentioned in the resume. It also shows you how they think about things. About 50-60% of interviewees perform poorly in this exam which can make it the most important part of any interview.

#4 Ask Consistent Questions

It is easy to do this if you prepare in advance for an interview and know your criteria. It is a good idea to create a sheet of questions in which about 10-12 questions will suffice. It is a good thing to hear different perspectives on questions in which there is no clear right or wrong answer.

#5 Don’t Do All the Talking

Some interviewers become nervous to sit there and interrogate the candidate and instead start talking. They will happily tell you about the company and their job. Of course, some amount of banter is necessary to build rapport, but most of the time you should be asking questions.

This is the right thing to do in order to understand the person and it is also what they expect and want. This gives them the time to sell you on why they are just right for the job.

#6 Save Time for Questions

Just as you asked them questions, the candidates too have questions of their own and you should give them the chance to ask them. It is a good idea to save 10-15 minutes in the end for this. It is also important to do this, because if they are not curious enough about the company, the job, the expectations etc. then they are simply not worth hiring.

#7 Score Immediately Once You are Done

This is especially important if you are running a big process because there will be no time to write it down afterward. Bear in mind that after an hour of the interview you will forget the key facts.


#1 Multiple Meetings with Top 2 Candidates

Don’t make a decision from a single meeting. When you have shortlisted your final two candidates, make sure to have a couple of meetings with both of them.

It is never a good idea to have a single final candidate because they may drop out, you may start having doubts and other factors. This is why you should always have a spare to choose.

#2 Thorough Reference/Background Checks

It is important to call their references and if they praise the candidates then it is a good sign. This is because, if the candidates don’t list the most positive references, to begin with, then they are not worth hiring.

You also have to find a way to look among the people who are not on their reference list. It is also recommended to spend some money on a background check.

#3 Make Sure They are a Good Cultural Fit

It is a good idea to make the last meeting a social one and over food. Cultural fit is really important in any organization. Of course, this may not be possible if you are hiring many people, but you should find out if they are a cultural fit in some way or the other.

#4 Move Fast

Just because you have multiple meetings it does not mean that you should be slow. If the candidate has decided that they are excited about the position that you are offering, then you need to capitalize on this fast. Many times candidates drop out of the process because it is too long.


Hiring for startups is a process that should be standardized as much as possible. Creating a hiring plan and following it will ensure that you hire the best available candidates for the job. This is important because the candidate you hire will be performing important and profit generating functions in your organization.

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