Is your business set up to hire?

Posted 2019-03-28 by Alex Lennon
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Whether you’re a newly launched startup or an established global firm, it’s the people you have on board that are your most valuable asset. You might have an awesome market leading product or offering, but for 40+ hours a week it’s your team that are out there on the frontline or back at HQ doing the hard yards to keep the business moving forward.

The rapid pace of progress in tech is making life easier to run a business. But what often sets the most successful companies apart from those that are struggling to reach their potential, is who they have on board and how they got them. Ultimately, at some point in your interview process, two people are going to sit across the table from each other and it’s that small window that can make all the difference.

From my experience of helping businesses scale, there’s been some common trends. Here’s a few:

Consistency is Key

Define a process that is thorough enough to assess suitability, yet diverse enough to cater for different levels of ability. Treat everyone with the same level of respect, feedback, transparency and urgency. Replicating a consistent and successful hiring process is difficult, that’s why companies spend billions on Talent Acquisition teams and Recruitment annually. Having a robust process that delivers results means you don’t have to panic about a new hire, and even if you miss out on the odd superstar you’ve got many more in the process.

This is also a great way to build your credibility in the market. If people have a positive experience with you, but don’t get the job, they’ll be more likely to recommend you. Conversely, if they get treated badly, you can be confident they’ll have no problem telling their peers.

Set the bar high, but not too high

I might take some stick for this but it’s true. Not everyone is ex-Google, ex-Facebook, was top of their class at the most prestigious University and won the Nobel Peace Prize. And that’s OK. Undoubtedly keep your standards high, but keep them high relative to the position you’re hiring. If this is a role with long runway in career development then don’t rule someone out because they have areas of development. Keep an eye out for those rough diamonds that with some support can become invaluable for you long-term.

Interview by Audition

There’s endless ways to interview someone; a social setting, skills competency, psychometric testing, curveballs and so on. All of these have benefits, but equally someone could wing it on a good day, and you want to answer the most important question; can they do what they say they can, and how well can they do it?

You have to be a phenomenal judge of character to hire someone without practically assessing their ability, and you don’t want that kind of pressure on your judgment with every hire. Devise a step that puts them in a real world setting for their skill-set and see how they hold up. For Sales it could be a demo, for Engineers it could be an onsite tech test, for Support see how they handle mock support tickets. This gives you a crucial data point that you can reference against their other steps and see who talks a good game and who is strong in action.

Work towards the same goal

Are you and your hiring managers on the same page about who you need in the team? If not, it’s best to go back to the drawing board. Don’t waste your time and candidate’s time interviewing when the brief is a work in progress. Approve the scope of skills, agree on the criteria the person has to meet and the dynamic you’re looking for, then go after it 100%. Whilst managers from other teams/divisions will have different opinions and views (that’s a good thing) you should all be in agreement about what person you need.

Each of these is a whole topic in itself, and I’m happy to elaborate and discuss any of them. I welcome your feedback and opinions too.

To learn how Black Nova can help scale, head to

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