One (Just One) Interview Strategy / Workflow for Startup Companies

It’s been a crazy week this week as I’ve already had 15 interviews on Monday and Tuesday and today I’m working through them, giving feedback, and deciding on who’d I’d like to meet in-person.

Here’s what that looks like (my calendar):

Fuck… yaaaaaaaaas.

If the idea of interviewing 30-40 folks a week sounds nauseating, then, you’d be right! But, if you give yourself to it, fully, it can be not only educational but also pretty damn fun.

But, it’s not for the faint of heart! My strategy when I go into “full-time recruitment mode” is to actually go full-time, pausing effectively everything to find the next hire.

I’ll admit that you can’t always do this perfectly because there’s almost never a time where you do not also have a number of other large responsibilities but occasionally you get lucky.

So, let’s break this down a bit, shall we? Here’s one strategy that I’ve found that works really well when trying to recruit and hire for (super) early-stage startups:

  1. Go full-time. I mean that. Dedicate your entire team for a very concerted effort, putting everything “else” on life support (or skeleton crew). Or, at the very least, you, the founder, needs to go at it 💯. Why? Because…
  2. Hiring someone is really hard work and if you’re not focused you’re not going to give your candidates an amazing experience. Remember, the “interview” started before you even had a chat with them! Most folks don’t understand this which ultimately lowers their chance of hiring top talent. Why? Because…
  3. Top talent has a lot of great opportunities (if they aren’t considering building a company themselves!) and even the smallest of things can make an outsized impression for them. Remember, these folks have “been around the block” and have seen world-class recruiting efforts and also the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel. It’s better to execute on the former, not the latter type of experience. Why? Becuase…
  4. Effective early-stage recruiting needs to be tight, effective, and time-bound. Setting a start date and then an end-date is a forcing function for your team to know that despite the major commitment, it’s not “forever” and that the aggregate investment will have an explicit and net-positive outcome: Offer letters sent out with people saying “Yes”!

So, as you can see by my literal schedule above, I’ll interview 30 folks this week (I was shooting for 40) with a break on #humpday to assess, collect my thoughts and provide helpful feedback (when requested):

Keeping it short, to the point. These folks are awesome.

I’ll then do another 10-15 on the backend of this week with the hope of doing 80-100 in December (including repeat calls and continued conversations). That’s a lot, but, if you’re looking for 1-2 amazing hires, I generally think you need to do 100+/- or around 2% conversion.

My goal is to have on-site visits in January where I either fly to meet them or I fly them into San Francisco to meet with me in-person. I then plan on giving offer letters out mid-January with start dates in early February.

In total, it’s about a 60-day, full-time process. I try to make sure that I give my candidates the absolute best experience possible. I share a few more thoughts on YEN’s new YouTube Channel:

If you have any questions or want to chat with me about this process, I’d love that! Hit me up on Twitter: @yenFTW