5 Important Traits to Look for While Hiring for Startups

This is an excerpt from the book ‘Cut the Crap and Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up Trenches’ by Shradha Sharma, Founder, and CEO of YourStory, and TN Hari, Strategic Advisor at the Fundamentum Partnership. This excerpt has been taken from the chapter, ‘Hiring your Awesome team’. It describes the five important traits to look for in candidates to build an awesome team.

“We look for five traits in varying shades in all hires (whether early or late stage)”:

  • Look for individuals who can make things happen: 

    People who can see things through till the finish, don’t need follow-ups at every stage and above all can clean up shit without wanting to know how it adds value to their CV! No excuses. No cribs. Just gets things done.

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  • Look for clear thinking:

    Don’t confuse this with traditional IQ. A lot of people with a high IQ just don’t seem to understand how to declutter. Often they add to the clutter. Uncluttered thinking is always about being able to figure out the two or three things that matter in any situation, and equally important is being able to ignore the less important variables, irrespective of how much noise others may raise about them. It is about being able to cut through the smoke and noise. It’s about being able to ask ‘why’ repeatedly!

  • Look for genuine people

    This trait is really important. Those who are low on self-awareness rarely ask for help on time! They have too many masks and it isn’t fun or easy working with them. They rarely say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I wish I had known that earlier’ or ‘I don’t understand this well’. Avoid cynics, bystanders and the victim like the plague! You can spot them easily, but unfortunately, the signals are very weak during a ninety-minute meeting. They become obvious on the job. Therefore, do some serious, and informal, reference checks with someone who has worked with them or knows them well.

  • Important Traits to Look for in Your Early Hires UpGrad Blog

    Look for people who can work in a team and can build a team:

    They should have the ability to set—and live up to—high standards, have difficult conversations on time, provide negative feedback easily without vitiating the atmosphere and not worry too much about who gets the credit.

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  • Look for people who are service-oriented

    They usually demonstrate customer centricity. Most people tend to be customer-centric, or are at least whipped into being so when it comes to paying customers. It is how one deals with internal customers (how a product head deals with marketing/operations or the way a corporate marketing head deals with the regional business heads) that makes all the difference in a start-up. Lack of intense internal customer centricity can slow the journey significantly.

If you find this excerpt useful and want to read more about a first-hand entrepreneurial experience, you can read the book; ‘Cut the Crap and Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up Trenches’ by Shradha Sharma and T N Hari.

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