Staffing your team with talent that is growth oriented, passionate about the industry and able to produce top of line results, is not easy. Below I have written out a series of common mistakes businesses make in the hiring process.

  1. Hiring based purely on talent: One common mistake I see early stage businesses fall in to is simply hunting for the candidate with the most raw aptitude. While talent is clearly important, having some one who is coachable, a team player, able to be flexible etc. are all vital at the early stages of a business.
  2. Treating small business and large business talent the same: Another common mistake I see is managers thinking that a rock star in a position at a large business will be a rock star for their start-up. The demands and set-up for a small business are very different that a matured company. With small business you need someone dynamic, who can wear a lot of hats and who can be versatile in their role. Larger businesses typically want specialists, who can do one specific part of a process exceptionally well.
  3. Poor interview questions/vetting: When businesses are small and bringing on talent, they often get lulled into the trap of asking the questions they found online when they googled it. They ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “Do you have a biggest strength/weakness etc”. In certain cases those questions can have some value but the core job during that interview should be centered around their ability to work effectively in your specific role and vibe well with a small team. Ask about former successes and failure at doing similar work, look at the continuity of their resume, look for passion for the industry/niche (that one is big).
  4. Personality over weighted: Now let me be clear with this, a individual with little experience and the right passion/focus can easily outperform a more “veteran” candidate. But a common problem I see with small businesses is they find a candidate amiable, energetic and charismatic on a personal level and that is valued above their actual passion or interest in the product. I think if you find someone who has all the right signs of loving the industry and shows an openness to growth/coaching, they can be a great candidate but be weary of over weighting qualitative factors.
  5. Hiring Managers setting poor expectations: Hiring an employee is a two way value exchange and I often see small businesses, eager to secure talent and unable to wage match some of their larger competitors, over promising when pitching the prospect. If the prospect has unreasonable expectations of where they will be in a year, what they will be making in a year or how much control they will have, you are setting yourself up for problems.

Overall, when bringing on new people, focus on good cultural fits with relevant skill sets and a growth oriented mindset. Hiring is a pricey investment of training and getting people up to speed, so do your due diligence to make sure to properly vet new candidates. When you think you found the right match, make sure the team is warm and welcoming and you do everything possible to make that new team member feel like part of the family.

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