First hires are critical.
The decision is often centered on price or budget, followed by the resume. But, it's important not to forget a third, vital element: The individual. Their personality, work style, and much more can make or break their success.
How can you determine these traits during your hiring process? Here are a few to look for.
1. Purpose Fit.
Alignment of purpose can work like a vaccine during the challenges that arise.
For example, at the core of Simple Mills is our purpose to positively impact the way food is made, and a belief that the food we eat impacts how we feel on a daily basis. If wholesome, nutritious food isn't an important part of a candidate's lifestyle, he or she is not a fit for us.
Ask why candidates are interested in your company and what they are passionate about.
2. Culture Fit.
Company culture starts with your first employee and it's very difficult to change once it's created. Soul search ahead of time to determine what is important to you about how work gets done and how employees interact.
For example, I believe that analytics, attention to detail, and in-person collaboration are critical to business. Someone who does not share this view or prefers to work remotely may not flow in our culture.
Identify what you believe is important to your culture and business, and discuss it with potential hires.
3. Appreciation for Change.
In the first years of an early stage company, each month looks different and jobs change quickly.
During the interview, be upfront about this; nothing is guaranteed or etched in stone. Note that those who ask many questions about the stability of the business are often seeking a more stable atmosphere.
Look for candidates who don't just like change, but love it.
A strong sense of urgency is necessary in every high-growth company.
Test this during the interview process by giving the candidate an assignment. You will learn not only about the employee's raw skills, but also about their pace.
Those who return the assignment near or after deadline are red flags for a high-growth company. Look for candidates who are eager to turn around high-quality work, quickly.
5. Prioritization Skills.
High-growth companies have continuously competing priorities and lengthy to-do lists. Employees must be able to prioritize and accomplish most important items first, or they will feel constantly overwhelmed and consistently underperform.
Ask your candidates how they organize their week, how they start their day, and what they do when they have a large list of tasks.
6. Drive for Achievement.
Someone who isn't content with the status quo, who wants to see accomplishments for themselves and the team, is an ideal first hire. This individual will constantly rise above obstacles, help move colleagues, and strive for the same success you want to achieve.
This is one of the few traits you can actually see on a resume. Look for past achievements or any other quantification of success.
High-growth businesses hit many bumps along the way.
Our first hires traveled 10 weekends out of the year, toted heavy bags across the country, and worked late hours. Not everyone is cut out for this, but you need people on your team that say "Game On!" in the face of difficulty.
Ask candidates about the career challenges they've faced and how they reacted. And most important, be clear and honest about your expectations for hours and work so that misfit candidates can select out.
It is difficult to find the right hires. Be patient! It is far worse to hire the wrong person at the cost of your business or culture.
It's trite but true: It costs more to fire a bad hire than to wait for the right one.