Hiring quickly is a temptation many entrepreneurs are all too aware of. The sooner they can fill the seats, the sooner they can get things going. The problem is it's all too easy to do things too quickly, to the point when you're hiring people just because they're willing and not because they're qualified.

Unsurprisingly, that can doom your startup. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it'll do it eventually. Running a startup with a poor hiring process is like building on sand - it's not going to work out. Here are a few terrible hiring mistakes you must avoid.

Mistake #1 - Paying No Attention to How They Fit the Job

As the entrepreneur of a new startup, you'll likely participate in the hiring processes. You'll be present at interviews, if not conducting them yourself. It can be tempting to hire people whom you like. The problem is just because you like them as a possible employee doesn't mean they're a good fit, either for the job or the company culture.

Think about where they live, for example. Will they commute to your startup? How long will that take? Even something as seemingly unrelated as that can affect how they perform at your office.

Mistake #2 - Making Experience the Most Important Metric

Experience is important. Experienced employees often offer more and can serve as mentors to new staff. Unfortunately, not all experience is equal. Some experience is unrelated to the challenges of the position. Sometimes, it's meaningless - six years of experience in the industry made up of jumping from company to company due to performance issues, for example, is a bad sign.

Don't hire someone just for their experience. Consider the benefits of their experience or its validity. You should also give equal weight to their intelligence. An experienced person who hasn't learned anything won't add anything to your startup.

Mistake #3 - Hiring the Charismatic

Some candidates are more charming than others. Heck, sometimes they can feel like the most charming person you've ever met. You think about them long after the interview where they made the whole room laugh. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they're a good fit for the job. Even account managers need more than charm and wit to do their job.

Resist the temptation to hire someone because you think they'll be fun to have around the office. Don't let them charm the pants off you. Keep your belt tight and keep digging for actual credentials and proof that they have the skills required to do the job. Focus on facts, not clever responses.

Mistake #4 - Ignoring Employee Referrals

Referrals are an amazing source of possible employees, especially if they come from someone you trust who knows the company culture. They're more valuable than people who reply to your job postings, as there's a lot you can't put in a posting. Ignoring employee referrals or treating them like any other potential hire can not only cripple the hiring process, you risk alienating the one who referred them to you.

It may seem unfair to put referred people at the top of the list, but consider that they weren't referred blindly. They're not just people with a list of credentials - the one referring them likely worked with them at some point and can vouch for their work ethic and skills. Paying extra attention to them can save you a lot of time and money.

Mistake #5 - Not Giving Hiring Any Attention

As an entrepreneur, there's a lot vying for your attention. You need to figure out your market, talk to investors, constantly improve your product - compared to those things, hiring seems like a small thing. Except that it isn't.

The hiring process is a long, expensive, and complicated, effort. It's not something you can leave for later or ignore. If you don't pay attention to it, it won't work. You must take an active role. Take the time to find the best talent possible in the time you have with the resources available.

One of the most important things you'll do as an entrepreneur is to make sure the hiring process is not only smooth but that it's done well. Getting the wrong people into any position in a startup is bad for business. You're not going to hire a lot of people, and the people you do hire will need to do more than their listed job description indicates. It's a long and difficult process, but if you want to succeed in entrepreneurship, it's something you must do.

Published on: Jul 20, 2016
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