Hiring for a key role in a new startup is both interesting and frightening.
You get the opportunity to meet great people, who have invested time and interest in what you’re going to do, and you really need to make sure you end up with the right one.
It can be tempting to just interview a few people for the role to save time and go deeper than you can with more people. But actually you should do it the reverse; you should run more 1st interviews, be a bit less deep and just form your impression as you go along.
Because it will enable you to get the real feel for who’s going to be the right candidate. Just as you know when you’re in the same room with the person, you will know when you’re not. And those moments will also help you inform what’s needed for someone to be the right fit.
I am following this approach for the role of Head of Product for MedTech X, and I think it’s paying off. I am meeting lots of people, and steadily I get more crisp about what the right profile for the role is.
As I go through the interviews I keep a spreadsheet for myself, where I write down my comments and score tha candidates. I do that based on:
Chemistry (don’t ever underestimate that – especially in a startup)
I give everybody an average score based on the above and I supplement with comments. In that way I always have an overview, but more importantly: I can go back and revisit based on the next interview I do.
In that way I can refine my opinion on candidates and what’s crucial for the right one to have as I go along and without ever losing the bigger picture. And I can use the investment I make in meeting quite a lot of different people to the full effect – and ultimately hopefully get the right one.
I am currently recruiting for a Head of Product of our new MedTech X. During that process I have already learned some valuable lessons that I wanted to share with you in case you are also looking to recruit.
Ditch the standard application process. If you are recruiting for anyone outside of a very well defined, niche and/or junior position, forget about asking for applications. Most likely, the candidate you are looking for is (a) not actively looking and (b) doesn’t see herself writing applications all day long.
Trawl LinkedIn for good candidates. The business social network actually has some very good tools for searching for people with specific experience, seniority etc, and their InMail system is rather efficient for reaching out. Just make sure that you’re crystal clear in your headline and that you have a job profile you can attach.
Book introduction calls. Use one of the online calendar services to make it possible for candidates to find a timeslot and book an informal first chat about the job. It is super convenient, it breaks the social ice and reduce any awkwardness, and you get a chance to get a first impression. If that turns out great, just follow up while on the call with an invite for an in-person meeting, and you’re off.
If the role is super important to you and your company make sure that you do all the above yourself. There are a ton of people willing to help you – but at a cost. And there is nothing in there which you can’t do with nothing more than an investment of your time (which is precious, I know).
But the other reason for doing it yourself is the most important one: If it is truly a KEY position – as this one is – you need to send a signal to the candidate that you’re deeply invested yourself in finding the right fit. When you find the right one it will help send you on to great things together.
When you try to do something completely new, the only way you will know whether customers like it or reject it is if you show it to them.
This is precisely the argument for why you should be running experiments again and again, as you try to move forward from idea to a product or a service; you need to take stock of your customers to see, if you are essentially on the same page as they are. It not, redo, retool, relaunch or just stop.
Show your ugliness. Give your idea a spin. A little time and money invested in the right experiments go a long way into guiding the big product decisions that are truly costly.