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

A data-driven approach to hiring the people most likely to succeed
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


The 7 Most Shared Stories of 2014

The 7 Most Shared Stories from 2014

The 7 Most Shared Stories of 2014

In this roundup of the most shared stories from the ClearFit Blog, 2014, you’ll discover the surprising strategies some of the world’s best entrepreneurs have used to scale their sales teams, how some of our customers faced down some tough business challenges, and more…

Read on below for these and other enlightening business stories…divided by category, and in no particular order.

Scaling a Sales Team — Lessons From Top Entrepreneurs

We asked several top entrepreneurs how they managed to scale their world-class sales teams. Here are four unique stories of success, with lots of lessons for anyone who wants to build a successful business.

Mark Roberge: How an Engineer Scaled HubSpot’s World-Class Sales Team

Before joining HubSpot, Mark Roberge had no experience running a sales team, but he had something in his background that he would use to scale a world-class sales team and help make HubSpot one of the fastest growing companies in the US.

Mike McDerment: Great Service as an Unstoppable, Scalable Sales Strategy

FreshBooks founder Mike McDerment shares how he turned outstanding customer service into a powerful sales tool to become the world’s #1 cloud-based accounting solution designed exclusively for small service-based business owners.

Paul Jackson: Why Agility Is the Key to Method’s Sales Success

When Method Founder and CEO, Paul Jackson, set out to build a sales team, he made a costly assumption. Turning his software solution into a top-rated app would require Paul to turn that assumption on its head.

Mark Organ: Building a Better Sales Team

Mark Organ co-founded Eloqua and eventually sold it to Oracle for $871 million. That experience taught him a lot about building a sales team. Discover how he’s applying what he learned to his new venture, Influitive, to do it even better this time.

Customer Stories — Hiring for Growth

The junk pile of resumes, hiring people who don’t even show up, missing out on top candidates… these are just a few of the challenges most businesses face when it comes to hiring. Here are a couple of stories from our customers about how they solved some of these thorny challenges to break through to new growth.

Got junk? How Converting Technology found great employees in a sea of unqualified, unmotivated applicants

Steven Wieske, Operations Manager for a Wisconsin Manufacturing Company, used to be drowned in resumes, and his office was a revolving door of applicants. Discover how Steven closed that revolving door and maintained a 95% success rate.

The Star Employee Jeff Greenberg Never Would Have Hired

“I never would have hired one of my star employees,” Jeff said. “That actually has me a little rattled. It’s also taught me something I’m going to use to help me build a great business.” Read on to discover what Jeff learned.

Hard-Fought Business Lessons

Not everybody is willing to share the mistakes they’ve made and learned from, which is why we recently launched the first in a new type of story-based post where we explore some hard lessons, while protecting the innocent.

The Halo Effect: The Trap That Makes You Hire the Wrong Person

The halo effect is a common psychological trap that causes you to hire the wrong person. We are all susceptible to it. Learn three keys ways to avoid this trap.

Breaking News

Okay, it’s not a story post, but one of the other things we do on the blog is announce new ways you can use ClearFit to help you find and hire employees that succeed. This year, many of our customers enjoyed learning how to read a ClearFit Profile like a pro so they could discover insights about their applicants that they can’t get from reading a resume. We ran a couple of popular webinars on the topic and published this post.

Hiring Over The Holidays

Hiring Over the Holidays? Why it Might Just Bring the Gift You Need

Hiring Over The Holidays

Should I or shouldn’t I? It’s the question so many of us ask ourselves when December hits and we still have open positions to fill. Do we post that job or wait until the New Year?

The honest truth is that it could be the ideal time to find that perfect candidate.


Those applicants with the best drive, desire, and attitude will be the ones applying. So many applicants give up over the holidays. They believe nobody is hiring and resign to wait it out until the New Year. But there is a crop of applicants that keep fighting the fight. They see this time as the perfect opportunity to break through the clutter and be found.

As an employer, this could be a real boon to the quality of the applicants you receive during a perceived “slow hiring” month. Less applicants but higher quality is a great formula for finding the right employee faster. So, if you’ve got positions to fill, now might just be the perfect time to get it posted.

Here’s to the holiday hiring spirit!

For more ideas on how to hire the right employees:

The Star Employee Jeff Greenberg Never Would Have Hired

The Key Ingredient to Increasing Employee Productivity and Company Profits by Over 20%

The Halo Effect: The Trap that Makes You Hire the Wrong Person