Recruitment and selection for startups: Key steps to hire the best candidate

Startups have several options available to them to fill a vacant position. If your best business solution is to recruit additional team members, there are some key steps in the recruitment and selection process to make sure you hire the best possible candidate. These are listed below.

Note that your startup may also be able to meet your staffing needs by reorganizing work, engaging consultants and contractors, and by training and developing existing staff.

Recruitment: Attracting a pool of qualified candidates

Recruitment is about building a pool of qualified applicants. There are a few steps to follow to recruit effectively:
Define the job:

  1. Develop a thorough understanding of the position you have available, so you can target your recruiting efforts as clearly as possible
  2. Document this information in a position description, which defines the title, responsibilities and qualifications for the position
  3. To build a strong job posting, include some information about your company, make it engaging, not only include high level accountabilities of the role, but also the company’s values and required behaviours. Don’t forget to include how to apply.
  4. Before posting, determine the value of the position and create a salary range
  5. Clarify performance expectations so you can share this at the appropriate time during the selection process—typically during the interviews with your top candidates
  6. Based on your understanding of the job and labour market, determine the best methods for sourcing qualified candidates
  7. Use the most appropriate process to collect applications. If possible, limit your recruitment to online submissions.

Doing so may be as simple as creating a separate email account to receive applicant resumes. This account can send an automatic response to the applicant to confirm the resume has been received.

Over time, as the volume of your startup’s recruitment activity increases, other more sophisticated resume management and applicant tracking systems are available (at a cost)

Selection: Finding the right fit

The selection process is about screening your candidates to determine the right fit for your startup. The following steps will help you streamline your selection process:

  1. Review all resumes received and screen out candidates who do not meet your minimum requirements. If too many resumes remain, tighten your screening criteria to focus on only top applicants.

How the candidate presents themselves in writing through the cover letter and resume is important. Relevance, timeliness, and even grammar and spelling can give you insights about the person

  1. Create a shortlist focused on the top three to five candidates. Consider conducting phone or video interviews to determine if a face-to-face interview would be a good investment of your time.

Questions asked during these phone or video interviews will help screen out candidates on the basis of unrealistic salary expectations, questionable employment history, and poor communication skills or interest. Ensure you are consistent with your questions for each candidate, to ensure you have a balanced comparison.

  1. Evaluate the shortlisted candidates to identify the leading candidate(s). At this point, you are ready to conduct face-to-face interviews.

Consider including an assessment test, if appropriate. When properly administered, assessment tests can introduce a high level of fairness, accuracy and validity into the selection process. However, it is difficult for untrained people to judge the quality of psychometric testing tools. And a lack of proper training is also a risk in the use of psychometric testing. Use careful consideration when exploring whether to include assessment testing. if you do use assessment testing, be sure not to have this be the only measure tied to your process. It is part of the process, in addition to your interviews.

Once a leading candidate emerges, perform reference checks to validate the results of your screening efforts. This will help your startup determine if it would like to proceed with an offer of employment.