Startup Corner: 4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your First Employees
When managing a startup, there are about a thousand different liabilities to keep track of at any given time; fortunately, your employees don’t have to be a part of that statistic. Whether you’re just learning about the startup process or you’re actively in the hiring phase, here are four questions you should ask (and answer) before looking for your first few employees.
1. Which Traits are Optimal?
The adage “You’ll know it when you see it” may work for dive bars and hopeless romantics, but it isn’t a viable strategy for your employee model. You should have a specific set of desirable characteristics for your employees, including everything from their mannerisms to their initial presentation. You can always pare down your ideal employee’s attributes later; for now, make your profile as complete as possible.
Answering this question early on will prevent you from wasting precious time and resources looking in the wrong places, hiring the wrong people, and dealing with the fallout from a lack of cohesion. Similarly, knowing what you’re looking for in an employee before the first interviewee walks through the door will ensure that you aren’t side-tracked by traits auxiliary to the main point: hiring an employee base that will work seamlessly and toward a common goal.
This question will also force you to define your company culture if you haven’t already done so—a crucial step in any startup’s lifespan, and one that has the potential to lengthen (or shorten) drastically said lifespan.
2. What Workplace Culture is Acceptable?
As previously stated, your workplace culture can make or break your startup before day one; however, defining your culture is only part of the battle. Your work environment has to be conducive to employees’ best interests, which is a tough topic to tackle without knowing outright what tasks you’ll assign to which employees. Once you’ve defined what you expect your workplace culture to be, it will be up to employees to determine what’s acceptable.
To that end, you should prepare to ask employees to describe their ideal workplace environment visions to you during the hiring process. Doing so will both give you an idea of what your target hiring demographic expects out of a startup and help you categorize potential hires according to those expectations.
3. What Experience is Necessary?
As with any job, you should know approximately how much experience your employees should have in their respective fields. Additionally, though, you should consider requiring a certain amount of startup experience. This isn’t means to punish otherwise well-qualified employees; startup environments can be incredibly fast-paced, intimate, and draining even for seasoned veterans, to say nothing of people who haven’t yet worked for a startup.
This is another question that you’ll be able to discuss with employees rather than determining outright—for example, you might notice character attributes which lend themselves to the type of personality slated to thrive in a startup despite the absence of formal experience—but knowing what to expect of your employees’ past startup experience is crucial.
4. What Future Should Employees Envision?
One question that both employees and employers dread is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Despite its clichéd appearance, this question is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you need to know that you’re hiring employees who find satisfaction in long-term success, not just a paycheck. Secondly (and more importantly), your employee prospects should have a clear goal in mind when they arrive to interview.
Knowing the answer to this question before the hiring process even begins will allow you to corroborate employee responses with your own, thus ensuring that everyone is on the same page come the first day of work.
As an equal opportunity employer, keep in mind that your hiring should reflect talent, not unchangeable physical or mental attributes. This is something to remember when building your ideal employee profile—it’s all to easy to finish your portrait of a perfect employee only to find that you’ve created a mirror image of yourself and excluded entire races or orientations in doing so.
The easiest way to ensure that you’re upholding your end of equal employment opportunity (EEO) is by checking with your HR division. If you don’t have an HR division on staff at this point in the process, Abacus Payroll can provide consultations from our HR Support Center to make sure that you’re on track for a successful, inclusive hiring season.
Managing the initial phases of a startup can be brutal—you shouldn’t have to worry about hiring the wrong people on top of everything else. For help with meeting your hiring needs or more information about startup optimization, call Abacus Payroll at (856) 667-6225 today!