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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

This Week’s Question: Working for a startup comes with its own unique challenges and rewards, and not everyone is cut out for the startup life. As the owner of a startup, how can you tell when a prospective employee is ready to work for your team?

The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.


zac1. Look at Their Job History and Social Activity

You can get a good idea of an individual’s character and work ethic by taking a look at their previous job experiences and online social profiles — especially LinkedIn. Take the time to research each of your potential hires and see how their online actions and previous work experiences represent their entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and work ethic.

Zac Johnson, Blogging.org

Steve2. Decide Whether They Have Passion and Vision

Building a startup is building a company culture. When the interviewee not only can clearly communicate the company’s vision, but is also truly passionate about it, that’s a good sign that they might be a good fit. Startups can have high risks, but also high rewards, and people flexible enough to deal with those challenges are typically the ones that will thrive in the startup environment.

Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group

Marty3. Decide Whether They Can See a Project Through to Completion

Are they simply ready do the whole job and not delegate everything to a team they manage? In a startup environment, every employee must complete tasks ‘below their pay grade’ from time to time. If they understand this and truly are willing to do the work, then they might be a good fit for a startup. If they have any hesitation about it at all, don’t hire them.

Marty McDonald, Bad Rhino Inc

John4. See If They Are Prepared to Work Outside Their Comfort Zone

Key early employees need to be specialists, but they have to be okay with occasionally working outside their comfort zone. This includes tasks or duties that are both above and below their equivalent role at a large company. If they aren’t excited about rolling up their sleeves when duty calls, neither party will be happy.

John Arroyo, Arroyo Labs, Inc.

Lisa5. Ask About Their Most Menial Job

Startups involve a lot of really exciting, important work. At the same time, there is a fair amount of mundane, boring work that is often done by people who are ‘overqualified’ to do it, simply because there are so few people at the company. Ask the prospective employee to describe the most menial job they’ve ever had and how they coped. From their answer, you’ll be able to quickly gauge whether or not they’re down for anything.

Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

Julian6. I Was Unemployable

I never chose to be an entrepreneur, but I have grown to become one despite who I was. I realized early on that I make a terrible employee because I’m impatient to work for someone else’s dream. I am a great team player when I’m working on something I’m crazy passionate about. Otherwise, I would be a frustrating person to manage. Entrepreneurship suits my type of personality well.

Julian Flores, GetOutfitted, Inc.


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