At Alumnify, it's an exciting time for our company. We're growing faster than expected, which means we've been putting a lot more of an emphasis on hiring. Over the past few weeks, I've looked over hundreds of applications of all types of positions. While the skill sets have been spread across the board, I've picked up on certain cues that have helped in getting the right talent. Below are a few takeaways I've learned from hiring for our startup. I hope these tips help you as you look to grow your team.

1. Ask engineers what they are passionate about solving

Engineers want to know that what they are building matters. They want to see their work being used by someone, and have it positively affect someone's life. Alongside of this, they want to solve a problem they are passionate about.

One of the easiest ways to hire the right technical team members is by finding out what they care about. You need to dig deep and get past surface layer interests. This is because the deep underlying beliefs of your engineers will show in your product. When interviewing a programmer, what gives them a twinkle in their eyes? You'll know it when you see it.

If the engineer's passion isn't similar to what your company's mission is, you need to pass and move on. It will help prevent a lot of arguments down the road.

2. Look for lazy salespeople

Not all, but most sellers are strictly driven by money. They want to use the least amount of effort to bring in the most deals. Unlike developers, most sellers won't sell things for sheer fun. They do it to get paid.

Because of this, the best salespeople you can hire are ones that want to get as many deals done early on to free up their time. Sellers are typically the ones who want to drive the nice cars and have the super nice watch. To maintain that lifestyle, they have to bring in a certain amount of business to the company. Once that's reached, they want time to enjoy their lifestyle. So the lazy salesperson will work their tail off to bring in deals in the most efficient way. These are the people that you want selling your product.

3. Don't push metrics on marketers

One of the biggest mistakes I've made interviewing marketers is focusing so much on the analytics. From experience, I've learned that most people in marketing are not passionate about metrics. This is because marketers do not believe marketing is a science, but instead an art.

4. Trust your gut when it tells you no

The hardest part about hiring people comes when you can't make up your mind. In these situations, too many founders favor yes over no. A lesson I've had to learn is that it is better to say no than yes when you're on the fence.

If you're hiring an engineer, you need to make sure you check their expertise with another developer on your team. If that developer is even a little hesitant about hiring them, you need to say no and move on. Too many startups fail because they hire out of desperation. In the long run, this kills them because of the headaches the bad hires cause. Instead, trust your gut when it tells you no. Build a team of amazing people and say no to everyone else. As Steve Jobs once said, "A small team of A players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players."

Published on: May 7, 2015
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