Think you’re on the asking end of your 1st recruitment venture? Think again.
It’s not you asking the questions, it’s your potential employees questioning you. As an entrepreneur, unless you have significant salary to pay the individual, a nice office with even nicer furniture and a reputation in the field, your first employee is always going to have the advantage during the interview process.
I don’t believe many start-ups can completely level the playing field during the initial hiring process. You don’t want to give a stranger significant amounts of equity in your company that, frankly, you don’t know the worth of yet.
However, you do want to make the prospect of working with you and seeing your vision through worthwhile for the individuals whom you’re sitting down with. Before I got the employees I have now and have had, I went through 3 interns who each lasted a few months, on average.
Hiring is hard. That’s why I want to discuss some aspects of human resources and recruitment that you need to know prior to putting up that Craigslist ad.
– Sometimes getting a senior in college to intern at your firm and transition to a full-time employee works better than going from 0 to $40,000 annual salary cost for an entry-level college graduate. I can attest to the fact that bringing on a full-time salary with benefits can get very stressful and, if you do not budget properly, the stress can hinder performance.
– Ask questions about the future. Where does this person see themselves in two years? What types of daily tasks would they like to be doing at this point? What many don’t see in these questions is that they are actually recruiting, a.k.a. sales, techniques. Focusing on the future during the interview alleviates by converting most of the individual’s concern for the present.
– Employees are not going to think like you. Don’t expect them to. Remember that even though this company is your baby, they’re just there to babysit. Every interviewee will tell you that they are “entrepreneurial” because the term is a positive intangible that’s thrown around as a must-use in interview tip checklists. At the end of the day, their loyalty lies with the check that you cut them.
– If you don’t have an office at the present time, strive to get one ASAP. The turnover rate of remote employees is nothing short of immense, and that’s when they’re still paid in the six-figure range. Strive to create a formalized culture and know that to effectively do so, you want the employees in your presence for 50-hour weeks.
There is a reason companies go even farther and have corporate retreats; you’re a lot more persuasive when in person. If you can’t afford an office right now, you must make the new employee adhere to camera Skype sessions. Otherwise, you may find yourself doing the first employee recruitment process all over again within a 90-day period.
– I recently recruited the first employee for a new business; she is a senior at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Most of our discussion was me giving her a presentation touching on certain aspects of the company, but focusing on what was in it for her.
I didn’t go on and on about my more established company or myself. I discussed what she would learn working at this start-up, what she can plan to make — with supporting evidence as to how I came up with those numbers — and the entire presentation was done in informal PowerPoint format that I had on my desktop for reference.
Don’t do a formal presentation: I’ve seen it done and the people have come across to me as somewhat desperate. Informal, but rehearsed is the perfect combination.
– Know that if you don’t get rejected by a few interviewees, then you’re probably not trying hard enough. Now is not the time to be “cool.” It’s the time to be “successful” and build your business. When I ran my recruiting business and began to grow that business from an apartment, I got declined so much that I wondered if I was even a good recruiter for other companies.
Recruiting is hard for entrepreneurs, but it gets easier as you get more and more successful, which you will. Right now you’re on the defensive, but consider there to only be two more downs left before they call out the punter. In the end, embrace being nervous. It’s part of life, business, success and recruiting.
– Be professional. This person is not your friend; you are there to recruit the best employee possible. Even if you are a young entrepreneur, it’s not happy hours with the individual for a long while yet. This is regardless of whether you’re working with someone of your same age and sex, or someone who is as different from you in the most basic ways as they can possibly be. Professional behaviour is professional behaviour and nothing changes based on the age, gender, etc. of the individual.
The last piece of hiring advice I have in mind is to not be overly judgmental of people. Focus on the applicants’ strengths as people. You are now officially a leader and leaders make people feel good about themselves by making them better. Step up and enjoy yourself because you’re going to have to do it again pretty soon — not to replace this employee, but to bring someone on under them.
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