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Recruiting for your Startup - Part 5

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by Startacus Admin

interviewSo...all good things must come to an end. And the end we speak of today is the 5th and final in our series of posts on Recruiting for your Startup. In the recruitment process, this is the one we’ve been building up to - the finale if you like - Dum Dum Der - the interview...

Since this is the 5th post, there’ve been of course four before now - the links for which you’ll conveniently find at the foot of this article. If you’ve followed the tips provided therein, you’ll hopefully now have some quality applicants, and with a little luck be now in a position to interview for your vacancy. Organising and holding a series of interviews can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before, so here are a few pointers and considerations on the various types of interview that you could potentially hold:

Over lunch / coffee

People often say (who are those people by the way?) that you make a decision on the suitability of an applicant within the first few minutes of an interview. Therefore before you get too intense with a 2 hour interview, testing and all that jazz, why not just meet for an informal chit-chat over coffee? Identifying if potential candidates have the right 'fit' for your startup is pretty important so a coffee and a casual chat can often be a good way of assessing just that.

Role play

Admittedly, role plays may seem awkward, weird and unnatural, however for some roles, they can be a great way of identifying if someone can walk the walk as much as they can talk it. Role plays are of course less relevant for technical roles, but can be great for a customer service, sales or a performance based position where an employee would be face to face with an 'audience'. Why? Well, under the spotlight of a role play interview, a candidate will have to perform and ‘live out’ the skills they claimed to have on their CV. If they can’t then it should raise questions. After all, in a startup, having someone who can do what they say they can do is vital.

A project / test

This is of course more relevant for technical roles or for demonstrating abilities in certain types of position. The project or test may be done in your office or it may even be sent to the candidate to complete at home. Either way, it can be a good way of showing you a candidate’s ability. Examples could include designing a logo, undertaking some coding etc.

Panel interview

We've touched on this before, but as an analogy, it’s a little like the judges’ houses stage on X-Factor. Getting another judge to sit alongside you asrecruiting for your startup the contestant sings or in this case answers your questions can be invaluable. After all, having another opinion can really help you decide if your candidate is singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak!


Not one of my faves personally, however many large companies use psychometric testing to initially shortlist someone's suitability for a type of role. There’s no reason therefore why startups shouldn’t do the same. There are lots of online psychometric tests that you could use, if this type of thing floats your boat. My main reservation would be that you could potentially disregard an otherwise excellent candidate based solely on their test results. Don’t forget that!

Competency interview

Just like a role play, a competency interview can be a great way of getting a candidate to demonstrate capability, experience and knowledge. Competency interviews require candidates to outline real-life examples of how they have performed in certain situations e.g. “Give me an example of a time when you have managed an under performing team member and how you managed the situation successfully.” The chances are that if a candidate can’t answer a competency type question properly, they probably have not got the experience you need. In a startup having a team around you that are competent in actually being able to perform, is essential and can make or break your business growth.

A mix of the above

It makes sense we suppose, however by undertaking a combination of a few of the above, you are more likely to find the right person for your role and team. Whichever options you go for, one piece of advice that you should take heed of. Try not to drag the recruitment process out over a long period - try instead to get as much as you can done in one swoop - it will make for a smoother process all round.

Recruiting for your Startup - Part 1 - the logistics
Recruiting for your Startup - Part 2 - the Job Description
Recruiting for your Startup - Part 3 - the shortlisting
Recruiting for your Startup - Part 4 - where to recruit

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Published on: 14th November 2013

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