Having an amazing team is the greatest asset you can have to build a strong company. When you pitch investors, the first thing they'll usually look for is the team. While recruiting methods have differed from the past, many founders have yet to adjust to new ways of finding talent. What's more interesting is when it comes to hiring. Although hiring is one of the most important jobs a founder can do, many don't take it seriously enough. Simply going out for drinks and chatting is not the way to hire an all-star team.
To find out how to find and hire the best employees possible, I sat down with Ken Schmitt, the founder and president of TurningPoint Executive Search, a recruiting firm in San Diego. Ken has more than 16 years experience and has built TurningPoint into one of the top recruiting firms on the West Coast. Here are some of the insights I gathered from our interview:
1. There are 3 free tools every entrepreneur should use to recruit talent.
A) The founders' networks
The greatest chance you have for someone to return your call is when you are already close with that person. Look to tap into your college alumni network, or your old company's alumni base. When you reach out to people you know, you'll have a much higher chance at getting a great candidate.
B) Referral Partners
When choosing people to help your company, you want to first check what they can bring to the table. An example is your lawyer. For a startup, make sure your attorney has connections to investors or customers that they can help with down the line. Also, these kinds of people make perfect sources for referrals to talent. Try tapping into your lawyer, accountant, or banker's network. These people are on your team to help you, and many times have connections to the talent you need. You just have to ask.
While this is a more obvious source, many startup founders use LinkedIn before they are ready. Before tapping into LinkedIn to identify and contact recruits, make sure you have the basics in place. Your website should be up and running, and you should have a polished company page and personal profile. Recruiting before these steps are done will make it much tougher to use the power of LinkedIn.
2. The Greatest Hiring Mistakes Founders Make
While technology has improved over the years, Ken says the problems that come with hiring have stayed the same.
A) Making a hire based on your "gut"
Too many companies hire off of feel and regret it down the line. While companies should not focus just on hard skills, all startups should have a set interviewing process. Ken advises companies to check candidates based on their hard skills but also based on how they fit in with the team.
B) Deciding what the company needs
Before exploring new hires, companies need to first determine exactly what is needed in the position, and how making the hire will affect the entire company. So many startups hire people when they don't know what they need them for. This leads to bad team culture and wasted resources. Instead, create new job specifications for each position you want to bring in. Have a set interview process for them prepared. Also, make sure you know exactly what you're looking for before the first interview. That way, you mitigate as much risk as possible when hiring.
3. The Best Questions To Ask A Candidate
A) "How will we know if this new hire is successful in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months?"
Before asking a candidate any questions, your team should ask this question internally first. Based on the results, you'll be able to determine the ideal set of questions to ask the candidate.
B) "Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your manager's position on an issue. What was the issue, how did you handle it and what was the outcome?"
You want to ask questions that can't be answered in an irrelevant way. Instead, focus on asking behavioral questions. Then once you get an initial response, dig further and further.
C) "We all have things we are working on, and none of us is a perfect 10 professionally, what would it take to make you a perfect 10 in your job?"
This is the perfect question to get someone to tell them about their weaknesses without pushing them into a corner. Ken says he learned this question a while ago, and still continues to use it today.