INSIGHTS FOR IMPACT

Social enterprise articles

Westaway Review leads the discourse on best practices for social entrepreneurship. Find the insights you need to change the world.

Hire a Top Performer Every Time with These Interview Questions

Hiring the right people is extremely hard. Not only is the market tightly constrained — especially for tech companies, but the unwritten rules for how to hire are often plain wrong. With more candidates who “look good on paper” going on to flounder at startups, it’s time to rethink what qualities actually make someone a great employee.

As the co-founder and CEO of Koru, an immersive business-training program designed for newly-minted job seekers, Kristen Hamilton works to bridge the gap between graduation and employment, and place people in jobs where they’ll excel. Working with candidates who lack real-world experience has had a surprising byproduct — she now has a crystal clear sense of the skills and traits that make people great performers.

Hamilton has channeled this knowledge into a new paradigm for what a high-impact hire looks like and how to find one. As such, Koru doesn’t put much stock into typical metrics like college rank or GPA. Instead, Hamilton and her colleagues have identified the skillsets and mindsets that are most predictive of on-the-job success.

They arrived at seven characteristics that, taken together, best translate into someone killing it at their job. These traits transcend department or career stage, and they apply to entry-level engineers and marketing executives alike. Most importantly, they work: 85% of the young people accepted into Koru’s program (which uses the same seven measures to screen candidates) land jobs quickly. Many of them field multiple offers. And the companies that hire them (like LinkedIn, Facebook and Yelp) have been uniformly impressed by the results.
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January 16, 2016

Minimal Viable Team

Every startup I’ve worked at folks have lamented about how there were never enough resources to accomplish everything they wanted to. Whether it was not enough engineers to build the desired features, not enough designers to design those experiences, not enough marketers to drum up interest, or not enough salespeople to generate revenue. It always felt like the startup couldn’t hire fast enough to meet the desires of the business. And the classic belief was that we would be able to achieve our goals if we just had a few more people on the team. It’s easy to understand why folks have that mentality given resources are certainly a necessary ingredient to getting things done. When a startup is in the company building & scaling phase, excellence in hiring and on-boarding quality talent faster than others is a potential competitive advantage

But I want to make the counter-argument for why a minimum viable team, or a small team just big enough to ship and iterate on your minimum viable product, has it’s own advantages at the earliest phase of a startup when you are pre-product/market fit.

Reduced communication overhead

As Fred Books taught us long ago, the cost of communication increases exponentially with the addition of each new team member on an R&D team due to the nature of the inter-connected work which requires everyone to be kept up-to-date on the current plans, designs, strategy, etc in order to ensure success.
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The all-American ‘rags to riches’ story is one that many can identify with or find inspiration from — going from sleeping in your car to owning more than you hate to admit, or coming from humble beginnings only to reach fame and fortune. Entrepreneurship is the vehicle of this story, where we have the power to make something from nothing.

As a startup, one way to progress is to raise capital. In an ideal scenario, with this money, you’d grow faster and stronger than the competition, and you and your investors emerge on the “riches” end of the equation as quickly as possible.

Of course, there’s always the other option — the Cinderella side of the story, where a couple of ambitious people aim to build their empire one customer at a time in bootstrap mode.

When you build your startup without other people’s money, you make the decision to take control. First, you don’t dilute yourself right out of the gate; we’re capitalists after all. We’re here to make a buck. Second, by not taking someone else’s money, you’re able to prove your business model and paid channels before really putting gas on the fire. Third, when you’ve decided to embrace the little cash you initially have, it forces you to make better decisions and to stay disciplined. And finally, without investors, you can craft your company culture the way you intended (something that was important to us).

With a 10 percent startup success rate, the decision to bootstrap means that your plan of execution needs to be as tight as possible. Some points to consider:
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