Small Business Hiring

5 Questions to Ask Your First Hires as a Start Up

By Abby Perkins
Dec 05, 2014 • 3 min read
Table of Contents

      So, your startup is off the ground. The next thing to do? Recruit and hire new employees. However, hiring new employees is no simple undertaking – especially for startups.

      Startups offer a unique work experience – one with numerous responsibilities, variable roles and schedules, and, more often than not, long hours. And startups often have limited resources when it comes to recruiting and hiring, making it even more important to make smart decisions the first time around. Hiring the right employees can have a major impact on how – and if – your startup will succeed.

      Startup success requires a strong team of employees who are dedicated, motivated, and willing to work together and embrace change. To help find out whether a candidate is a good fit for your startup, ask these 5 questions during the interview process:

      1. How comfortable are you with change?

      Startup employees need to be able to deal with constant change. In a startup, this could mean change of projects or positions, change of day-to-day responsibilities, change of mission or motivation, or even change of organizational structure. For many employees, change can be nerve-racking and highly stressful. However, a confident and adaptable employee can easily accept and even embrace change with minimal disruption to productivity. When interviewing applicants, acknowledge that change can often be difficult, and ask how they see themselves handling various levels of change.

      2. Do you feel at home in fast-paced environments?
      The pressure to complete seemingly never-ending tasks and meet short deadlines can seem overwhelming for many employees. Working at a startup often requires the willingness to work long hours – and the ability to think quickly and use time wisely and productively. That’s something not every employee has. A startup employee must be able to survive in an often tense, always fast-paced environment, without lagging behind. Recruiters should ask candidates if they have had experience with working in fast-paced companies and whether they were comfortable with it. Candidates who answer “no” probably aren’t a good fit.

      3. How do you deal with stress?
      Building and supporting a startup company is a continuous battle between improbability and determination. It’s extremely stressful at times, and requires employees to persevere through sometimes lengthy periods of anxiety and stress. For this reason, it’s crucial to hire employees who are able to work well under pressure and cope with the stress of uncertainty. Employees who can easily handle stress – and who can forthrightly talk about how they do it – will be better able to take on a startup’s greatest challenges.

      4. Tell me about a time you spoke up for an idea you believed in.

      Startups shouldn’t be looking for “yes” men or sheep who will keep their heads down and simply follow directions. Startups need employees who can be creative, outspoken and innovative. The best startup employees are ones who aren’t afraid to question the status quo, and who aren’t afraid to stand up for ideas they believe in. To see if any of your candidates fit this profile, ask them to talk about a time they spoke up for an idea or project they believed in – even if it went against what others thought was best.

      5. Would you consider yourself a jack of all trades? 

      Another essential interview question for startup recruiters is to ask if whether candidates consider themselves to be jacks of all trades. Are they willing to complete tasks outside of their job description? Some employees deem certain duties below their pay grade and refuse to take them on. Those employees have no place at a startup. Whether it’s making coffee, dealing with clients, or running the copy machine, startup employees need to be able to switch gears and assume different roles in a minute’s notice. Look for applicants who are willing and able to be jacks of all trades – not masters of one.

      What qualities do you think are important in a startup employee? What interview questions do you ask every candidate?

      About the author
      Abby Perkins

      Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Talent Tribune, a Software Providers blog dedicated to jobs, workplace culture and HR technology.

      Share Article:

      Business insights right to your inbox

      Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for industry news and business strategies and tips

      Subscribe to the newsletter

      Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for industry news and business strategies and tips.