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Startup Hiring: Who Will Soar? Who Will Crash and Burn?

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Startup hiring: It seemed like a stroke of luck when she was referred

It seemed like a stroke of luck when she was referred by one of your VPs who’d worked with her in the past.

She had a rock solid resume showcasing her success at a couple of well-respected companies.

Her LinkedIn profile was top-notch, complete with recommendations from several former managers.

She breezed through the interview process, leaving you and your team with no doubts about her intelligence, enthusiasm, and track record. Besides, she’s exactly the kind of friendly, outgoing person you knew everyone would love.

Six weeks later you’re wondering how it all went so wrong.


Going Downhill Quickly

Going Downhill QuicklyFor the third time in two weeks you’ve been pulled aside by a colleague wanting to express concern about your new hire. She’s alienated one member of the company after another with a strange overbearing approach to some aspects of her role and disregard for other tasks. Attempts to get her back on track have been ignored, and recently there’s been a hint of hostility creeping into her communication with several of her teammates. She missed work again today and you’re not sure what to think.

It’s not that she can’t do the work, it just seems she doesn’t really want to. At times she seems to be doing pretty well, but there just isn’t the sort of consistent engagement you expected when you hired her.

And now you’re worried that she’s pulling down the rest of the team.

She’s not a bad person. She’s not intentionally causing problems. She just doesn’t… fit.


You’re Not Alone

Sadly, this scenario plays out all too often, and it’s not confined to startups. It’s really no surprise given the astonishingly low correlation between what’s on people’s resumes and their likelihood of success in the role.[1]

Bad hires are expensive, especially for startups. It’s not just wasted recruitment and training investments, it’s also hard-to-quantify elements such as impacts on team morale, damage to client relationships, and lost sales.

In a startup — where things happen extremely quickly, problems arise and are solved everyday, and everyone wears multiple hats — fit is absolutely vital.


Injecting Some Science into the Hiring Process

Startup hiring: Injecting some science into the hiring processYour startup is data driven. It’s in your DNA to lead with data. Product people, developers, marketers… everyone comes to the table with data. Why is hiring — the very lifeblood of scaling your organization — so different?

Probably because there hasn’t been a simple, effective way of bringing data into the hiring equation at the right time… until now.



What Defines a Top Performer?

Startup hiring: What Defines a Top Performer?Ask your network what defines the top performers in their organizations and you’ll likely hear about passion, about genuine love for what they do, about a thirst for continuous learning and improvement, and about fearlessly taking ownership even in times of great difficulty.

Seldom will you hear that peak performance is built on particular experience, education, or even specific skills.

It’s not what’s on their resume that makes them great; it’s what’s in their heart.

Why then do we put so much emphasis on resumes in the hiring process?

Sure you dig deep in the interview process, having candidates meet with various stakeholders. Maybe you even have a well-structured set of behavioural interview questions and a consistently applied way to score answers.

You likely pride yourself on your ability to get a good read on a candidate. Nobody lives your company culture as completely as you do, and you know when you see that fire in somebody’s eyes.

Guess what? That’s what pretty much everybody says, yet they still make hiring mistakes. Lots of mistakes.


Who Was Overlooked?

Startup hiring: Who was overlooked?An important question to ask yourself is “what about everyone you didn’t interview?” Maybe you did choose well amongst those you interviewed, but what about that stack of resumes you blasted through, eliminating people from consideration after a cursory glance?

Were there “diamonds in the rough” that you missed? Perhaps people with unusual education or career paths that didn’t seem to fit the mold but might have become your next superstar hire?


How Do You Judge Based on a Resume?

If job performance is built on a foundation of core personal attributes, how do you find that in a resume?

Certainly you aren’t looking for the words. People who call themselves “passionate lifetime learners and problem solvers” or who say they “fearlessly take ownership in the face of every adversity” are probably mimicking what they read in an interview guide.

Surely you’re sophisticated enough to look for evidence of these traits in their past actions and results. But that’s far easier said than done.


What If You Really Knew?

Startup hiring: What if you could look inside every applicant and see what makes them tick?What if you could look inside every applicant and see what makes them tick?

What if you knew who was “built” for the role?

What if you could get this perspective on every applicant before deciding which ones to interview?

You’d make better decisions about who to interview, and who not to spend time on.

Your interviews would be more effective too. You’d ask better questions, focusing in on how the candidate’s traits, motivations, and work styles align with (and in some cases clash with) benchmarks of top performers.


The Next Logical Step

Measuring candidates against proven success benchmarks for each role is a tremendous leap forward, but it’s possible to go one step further.

Perhaps you have a team of people in similar jobs. It might be sales, customer support, or some other vital function. If your company is like most, their job descriptions may be the same, but their performance certainly isn’t.

They’ve all got the skills, experience, tools, and training to prosper, but some outperform the others week after week, month after month.

Do you find yourself wishing you had more people just like your top performers?

ClearFit Custom Profiles enable you to model a success profile, unique to your company, built upon the attributes that make your top performers the A-Players that they are.

No more guessing. Scale your team with those most likely to succeed in the role and in your specific company.


The Next Time That VP Refers Someone…

Startup hiring: Next time you’ll be ready to bring some objective measures into the equation.Next time you’ll be ready to bring some objective measures into the equation.

Next time you’ll be ready to explain exactly what it takes to thrive in the role, and how this candidate aligns (or doesn’t align) with the proven success profile.

Next time you’ll hire someone who fits.



Learn More about Effective Startup Hiring

To learn more about how ClearFit is transforming startup hiring, check out this 30 minute webinar.

Highlights include:

  • A closer look at how ClearFit measures every candidate’s traits and preferences, matches them against proven success profiles for more than 1000 job roles, and instantly identifies those most likely to succeed.
  • More information on building a Custom Profile specific to your organization, modeled on your top performers, to enable you to immediately identify strong candidates at the time of application.
  • Hear from Chad Horenfeldt, VP Customer Success at Influitive, a fast-growing advocate marketing startup with a passion for exceptional service, on how a ClearFit Custom Profile is fueling their hiring success.

Click here to view the startup hiring webinar or visit for more information on how to transform hiring at your startup.



[1] Tett, Douglas N. Jackson and Michell Rothstein, “Personality Measures as Predictors of Job Performance; A Meta-Analytical Review”, Personal Psychology, Winter 1991, p.703. Also US Department of Labor; Hewitt Associates; Gallup Management Journal; Dr. B Smart, Top Gradin


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