Some of the most important decisions you’ll make for your startup involve the hiring process. You’ll be hand-picking the team members who will ultimately help you build your products, develop your infrastructure, and grow your business to the scales you envision for yourself. You have a pretty good idea of who you want to hire, and for what roles, but if you’re new to the entrepreneurial world, you’ll probably be influenced by preconceived notions and assumptions you didn’t even know you had.
It’s normal for an entrepreneur to suffer some level of delusion in the hiring process, but it’s important to avoid these key manifestations:
It won’t take long to find someone.
When you’re considering bringing someone on board, you may find yourself procrastinating or otherwise writing off the decision, believing that once you start posting about the job, the resumes are going to flood in. This may be true, to an extent, but a flood of resumes doesn’t exactly mean a flood of viable candidates. Depending on your location and your industry, it may take months to years to find a candidate well-suited for your brand and position—or you may have to settle if you need someone faster.
Experienced equals qualified.
Experience usually translates to credibility, and for good reason; the longer you work in a given area, the more skills and expertise you’re usually able to offer. However, experience isn’t everything, especially for a startup, so try not to over-rely on this information. First, remember that not all experience is equal—an adept candidate may get more out of a one-year internship than a slacker may get from five years at a major company. Second, candidates may have talents, skills, and characteristics that no amount of experience could replicate.
There’s a perfect candidate out there.
During the early stages of your business’s growth, you’ll likely be protective about who you let in. For the most part, this is a good thing—it means that overall, you’ll hire more qualified candidates. However, it’s easy to become obsessive here, coming up with a long list of “musts” and throwing out any candidate who doesn’t meet all of them. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” candidate, and you may be surprised at what qualities make for a good one.
Anyone can thrive in this culture.
You created this company culture specifically to attract better candidates and host a better environment, so obviously, it’s a culture where anyone will be able to thrive, right? This is a biased and typically untrue viewpoint. Even cultures that objectively look good on paper are still only effective for certain types of employees. For example, some people actually perform better and end up more satisfied in stricter, more structured environments.
It’s good to hire people like you.
You’re a natural leader with a good set of qualifications, and getting along is key to building a great team. Therefore, if you hire people who are all like you, you shouldn’t have any issue working together and productively. This is a powerful delusion born from a bit of healthy egoism. While some candidates like you will invariably be a boon for your team environment, the truth is you need some people unlike you, too. You need people to challenge you, disagree with you, and generally think differently if you want to keep growing.
Interviews are a one-sided process.
Many hiring managers approach the interview process as a one-sided affair; find out as much about the candidate as possible and evaluate whether they’re a good fit for the position. However, your candidate needs to see whether your company is a good fit for them, too—they may even save you work by filtering themselves out of the running. Encourage your candidates to ask lots of questions, and remain as transparent as possible in your interviews.
Hire the right people, the rest will take care of itself.
Unfortunately, hiring isn’t the end of the process. Putting the right people in place is a good start, but to build a great team, you’ll need to make modifications, provide the right training, encourage teambuilding, and give your employees room to grow. Even the most qualified candidate can be rendered ineffective if they aren’t developed in the right environment.
Related: The 7 Deadly Sins of HiringIf you can avoid these hiring delusions, you’ll be able to set more realistic expectations and make more objective decisions throughout the process. It isn’t going to be perfect, and even with these delusions acknowledged and accounted for, it’s highly unlikely that your hiring efforts will go uniformly smoothly. Take things one step at a time, correct yourself when possible, and don’t worry if you make a mistake—it happens to all of us.