Houston expert: How to scale your startup team quickly and efficiently
Startups often use the first rounds of funding to bring in key individuals who will help make the company vision a reality. But hiring the right talent is not an easy task, and ensuring the right team is in place is important now more than ever during the early stages of your company’s growth.
Fortunately, there is a science to employee selection. In fact, there is entire field — Industrial & Organizational Psychology — dedicated to providing professional guidelines, best practices, and over 100 years of evidence to support recommendations into identifying talent an effective, efficient, and equitable manner.
From this field, we know that the first step to hiring in the right talent for your startup is to perform a thorough job analysis. Whether you are bringing in a new CEO, a vice president of sales, or extra hands for your technology platform, gaining consensus among your team about the competencies and attributes required to effectively perform in a new role is critical.
It sounds simple, but it is actually a rarity for organizational stakeholders to get together and comprehensively map out what the role entails and what candidate qualities are necessary to meet those requirements and expectations. Factoring things in such as early-stage demands, future landscape, and organizational culture will help create a list of competencies and attributes needed to be optimally effective in the role, beyond just professional experience and certifications.
After prioritizing the list of competencies and qualities deemed vital for candidates, you will then want to prioritize the list based on importance, how frequently they are required in the role, and the extent to which each is required upon hire —versus being easily trained or acquired on the job. Those at the top of the list should be directly assessed during the candidate screening and selection process. Whether it is through work samples, written assessments, situational judgment tests, or interviews, creating a diverse lineup of candidate screening processes will help ensure you are able to measure the whole person.
Because selection decisions can be high stakes — both for the candidate and your company — ensuring these assessments are directly related to the position, data-driven, and equitable will be key for maximizing the utility and legal defensibility of your selection system. For example, implementing unstructured interviews is common practice in many organizations large and small.
However, what the data shows is clear: structured interviews — those that consist of a pre-defined list of questions related to the role that are used for every candidate, use standard interview rating tools, and involve interviewers who have been trained to conduct structured interviews and use the rating tools — are more efficient and effective in accurately assessing job candidates.
Furthermore, the structure involved in this interview format reduces the opportunity for common biases and inappropriate questions to emerge during the interview process, thereby enhancing the likelihood for making equitable selection decisions and avoiding potential for legal litigation. Thus, it is important to ensure every screening tool or process has been thoughtfully considered and implemented from an efficiency, effectiveness, and equity lens. Making a shortlist of candidates and final offers based on the data accumulated through these processes will maximize the likelihood of identifying best fit candidates based on comprehensive data points.
If your startup has gotten to the point of being able to grow the team, it is clear that ample vision, strategy, and innovation has been dedicated to the mission up until this point. Hiring in the next round of team members is not a process that should undergo any less dedication. Ensuring that those around you share your vision, goals, and have a complementary set of skills and attributes will be critical to ensure success in your company’s growth and achievements.
Aimee Gardner is the co-founder of SurgWise, a tech-enabled consulting firm for hiring surgeons, and associate dean at Baylor College of Medicine.