How Startup Leaders Can Prepare To Hire Someone New

May 11, 2023
How Startup Leaders Can Prepare To Hire Someone New
Lessons in Leadership

The “great resignation” continues apace. The string of layoffs at high profile companies may be encouraging some employees to stay put, but many others continue searching for that perfect fit. According to Statista, “The number of monthly resignations hasn’t dipped below four million since May 2021.”

Employers, too, are adjusting to the new labor market. With many employees resigning, there’s a large number of highly qualified prospects. Often on the cutting edge with innovative work environments, many startups are taking advantage of workers’ desires to preserve the flexible work-life balance many enjoyed during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many candidates are interested in considering an opportunity with a startup, one carrying more flexibility but possibly more risk than their current position. Leaving a larger, more established company and all it offers is no easy decision. Not to mention the high failure rate of startups—some 65% fail within 10 years.

Employers, too, are struggling with critical decisions. Just how many workplace strictures can you impose now? Should you require everyone to return to the office, for example?

While this framework targets employers, workers considering switching jobs could benefit as well from understanding the questions to ask when approaching a new job opportunity, especially at a startup.

Let’s talk about it.

The Interview

Consider the interview an opportunity for interviewers and interviewees to share as much as you learn. You will want to know how each candidate stacks up against your requirements and other applicants. But they are also seeking confirmation that this opportunity is indeed good for them. Consider and prepare to discuss the following topics carefully:

1. Organizational Culture

The saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Critical to any job or hiring search is aligning the organization’s culture with the candidate’s preferences. I’ve noticed startup culture is often different from that at more established firms. And no two startups are alike. You might expect a candidate to ask:

2. Organizational Values

If diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are important to you (hint: they should be), don’t shy away from addressing these questions:

3. Leadership Experience

Candidates want to know who is leading the organization and how well prepared they are for the demands of launching and growing a startup. These are questions a candidate might ask about the management team:

4. Duties And Responsibilities

In startups, employees often wear multiple hats. Candidates will want a clear understanding of the expected responsibilities so they can compare them to their skills and interests. They may ask questions like the following to learn more about the position:

5. Potential Rewards

Compensation comes in many forms, and with startups there is plenty to consider. Answers to these questions will be important in an applicant’s decision-making process:

6. Potential Risks

These may be the hardest questions because they involve the sustainability and viability of the company. Consider how to answer these important questions:

The Reckoning

For startups seeking the best and brightest talent, your focus should be on answering the questions the most savvy candidates will ask. Startup leaders who build a strong culture, understand their value proposition to current and prospective employees (in addition to clients), and truly walk the talk will have the strongest chance at landing the unicorn employees most startups need to grow.

It’s also important to remember that attracting top talent is not enough. Talent development, employee retention, promotion of equity and inclusion, and mature succession management capabilities can help ensure these superstars not only choose your startup but will also choose to stay with the company in the long term.

If both sides—recruiter and prospect—are asking the same questions and aligned on the answers, it’s a win-win situation.