The question you should ask when hiring for your startup

"What would it take you to join my company?" is a question that hiring managers don't ask themselves often enough while designing and working through an interview process.

Posted by Tejus Parikh on April 3, 2015

Ask yourself this question when hiring Original photo

It's spring, the season of growth, and recruiting is top of mind for many of the companies at ATV. During one of my conversations with a colleague, he asked me "well what would it take you to join my company?" This is a question that hiring managers don't ask themselves often enough while designing and working through an interview process. It's too easy to focus solely on the companies needs and completely neglect the impact of the experience from the candidate's perspective.

My answer to the questions was, to paraphrase, "it had to be an interesting role, there had to be career upside, the comp has to make sense, and I need to like the people I will be working with." The epiphany came when I realized that everyone I was talking with could potentially offer something that met those needs, but one company had a simpler hiring process than the other. Even in that hypothetical situation, I found myself gravitating towards the place that made it easier.

The reality of hiring engineers in 2015 is that the good ones that bring a lot of value to your organization are in demand. Most candidates have a half dozen offers, and are in the various stages of interviews with up to a half dozen others. Another reality is that the economy as a whole is still pretty scary and people do not want to be out of a job for long.

Most candidates have a half dozen offers, and are in the various stages of interviews with up to a half dozen others.

There's a lot of hype around hiring for startups. Google is famous for their brain teasers. Whiteboard sessions, take home assignments, and extensive interviews are also common. At least once a week, something appears on the hacker news front page about some novel way a startup has decided to hire.

Google can have a long and arduous interview process because they are Google. Not only are they the center of so many lives, but they have a great corporate campus, amazing food program, no shortage of perks, and generous salaries. Your company is not Google, which means demand is not in your favor.

The quicker a company can get to a "yes" decision, the faster the candidate can as well. It's important to design an hiring process that validates that a candidate can accomplish the job and work with the team that takes as little time as possible. A traditional hiring manager may feel that a candidate that is not going to do everything it takes to land this job is not a good candidate. This thinking is wrong, the candidate does not have to care because they already have good offers from great companies.

Understanding the mindset of the job-seeker is crucial for creating a hiring process that can effectively turn prospects into employees. Seeing the market trends, the concerns of the candidates, and the expectations will help in adapting the process to one that's fair to both sides. As for the original asker of the question, I did not join their company, but I'm very glad he made me think about hiring in a different light.

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Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: