Henry Ward, CEO of start-up eShares, knows something about needing to hire fast while not compromising on quality. As of this month, he told employees at a recent talk, "of our 74 employees, 37 percent will have been at eShares less than three months and 79 percent less than one year."
How will Ward and rest of his team manage to accomplish such a feat and bring so many new faces on board so quickly? How can other start-ups growing at an astonishing pace manage to bring in enough people to meet their needs without compromising on the quality of talent hired?
Ward's talk is a lengthy response to those questions. If you're facing a similar predicament it's worth reading in full, including a discussion of the fundamental principles that guide eShares' hiring and lots of detail on their process. But if you just want a few quick, actionable suggestions, then look no further than these five rules of thumb for finding just the right sort of contributors.
Though Ward stresses they're designed to fit his company's values and culture and wouldn't suit every business, they just may give you some inspiration on how to hire better people, faster.
1. Hire for strength vs. lack of weakness.
At many companies, one objection to a candidate will sink his or her chances of getting hired. But not at eShares. "Hiring at eShares is not a democracy. We do not vote. The hiring manager makes the decision." Why? Ward wants to hire folks that are amazing at the things they do, not screen our people who show any weaknesses. Therefore, though several people may help interview a candidate "they help by looking for and discovering strengths. The single purpose of an interviewing team is to answer the question, 'what is this candidate amazing at?'"
The bottom line for eShares: "Two amazing people are always better than one pretty good person."
2. Hire for trajectory vs. experience.
"Our job is not to hire for Experience. That's what everyone else does. Our job is to hire people whose Trajectory will explode when they join eShares, pulling us along with them," explains Ward. How do you know -- without resorting to a crystal ball -- what someone's future trajectory is likely to be? "They get excited talking about what they could do rather than what they have done."
3. Hire doers vs. tellers.
"Be wary of seductive Tellers," cautions Ward. "They tend to be good interviewers. Interviewing ability has almost no correlation to employee effectiveness. The most common hiring mistake is hiring good interviewers. Don't make that mistake--hire Doers, not Tellers."
How can you know is someone enjoys getting their hands dirty? Simply "ask a candidate how to do something and then ask them to do it. I ask engineers how they would solve a coding exercise or a sales rep how they would sell cap table software. After listening to the answer I ask them to take out their computer and write code or pretend I am a buyer and sell me software. You can quickly see who prefers doing something versus talking about doing it," he explains.
4. Hire learners vs. experts.
This doesn't mean you don't want to hire people with expertise. But expertise isn't enough, Ward explains: "The velocity of change at eShares is so high that static expertise quickly becomes obsolete. To survive and grow we must be a learning organization. And that means we need people who are awesome at learning."
"The clearest signal of a Learner is curiosity. Curious people, by definition, love to learn," he adds. "When you interview, verify expertise by discovering strengths. And then look for curiosity."
5. Hire different vs. similar.
This is perhaps the most obviously generalizable of all of Ward's handy rules -- and probably among his most powerful. Many startups could benefit from heeding this advice: "There is a deep and natural human bias to hire people 'like us.' Fight this bias. Hiring Similar means we value repeatability and efficiency over creativity and leverage. Hiring Different brings new skills, paradigms, and ideas which are the sparks and tinder of leverage."