May 20th 2007 Posted at Startups
Comments Off on Hiring – Another key factor in start up success
One of the luckiest things about Brave New Worlds is that I mostly lucked out when it came to hiring. I seemed to get the best people, that wasn’t entirely due to luck however. We didn’t conduct any Pre-Employment Screening. Once we got what I would like to term “bad hire.” Boy did we learn from that experience!
While I cannot go in detail (names have been changed) etc this person while seemingly qualified, and seemingly a good person to have on your team; that changed once they joined our company. (Please note that I am not going to even give the gender of the person). That positive team player attitude immediately vanished. Our interview process required multiple interviews to be hired. I conducted the first interview. This was to weed out the obviously poor candidates and ones lacking a good match with our company culture (Engineering didn’t want to be bothered unless the candidate made it out of the first round. Strangely enough we got “programmers” applying who lacked basic programming knowledge). The next interview was conducted by the team members in the department where they were going to be working. Engineering conducted interviews with code questions, and design questions and a large 6 x 8 white board that was completely empty when the interviewee walked in. This meant that a candidate coming into Brave New Worlds for an engineering interview got quite a grilling but it was in a friendly way. The questions were more or less designed to understand how a person might solve various problems or their approach.
We avoided the silly,”How many gas stations in the United States” questions and focused on general approaches. That’s probably why this person slipped through the cracks. The person wasn’t an engineer but was tasked with simpler support functions. After the hire I noticed that issues began to creep up. Lateness, rudeness and the unwillingness to do assigned tasks. It was only after this person left a few weeks later that I found out that they had a history of this sort of behaviour. Had I conducted basic pre-employment screening beforehand I might have noticed the issues that occurred through out this individual’s employment history.
Making the decision to move from contractors to hiring a full time employee is a big step for small companies. By just being rigorous about the process you can avoid the situation that we found ourselves. There’s an old saying in construction, measure twice and cut once that applies in this situation. Just by making sure the employee is everything they say they are, you can avoid the hassle of a termination or an employee walking off with your inventory.
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