The Cost of a Bad Hire. How Startups Can Hire for Success.

Hiring isn’t easy — 61% of leaders believe that access to talent is a threat to their business. There are common issues that cause dilution of once clear thinking related to hiring. 

- Competition: especially in technical roles competition for talent is incredibly high

- Brand exposure: getting your name/company in front of the right talent and articulating yourself clearly

- Timing: who to hire and at what stage of growth

- Compatibility: do you sacrifice compatibility on the basis of great talent?

It’s no surprise that hiring goes wrong with these pressures forcing compromise, not to mention constant inputs from investors and internal staff who need increased capacity.

Hiring is vital for any company but especially for smaller companies. It can cost 100% of someone’s salary to replace them, this is money that start-ups often can’t afford.

Here a few ways to give yourself the best chance of success:

1. Streamline your process

Hiring for your fledgling company can be a precious activity as you add outsiders to your founding team. Leaders and stakeholders, therefore, often insist on being involved during hiring rounds. This, if not done in a streamlined way, can make the hiring process incredibly long for yourself and the candidate

While you may feel more comfortable with the interviewee after several interviews, be assured they will be interviewing elsewhere and competitors who move quicker will look more purposeful and attractive. 

Look to cut a few steps out of your current process where possible. You’ll appear proactive and ‘on it’ — increasing your chances of beating your competitors to the best talent.

2. Onboarding

33% of new hires search for a new job in their first 6 months while 26% leave within their first year. For start-ups, this disruption is potentially fatal. Making sure you have a robust onboarding process, that goes beyond your new employees first day, will help to cement their position.

People join start-ups for the variety and autonomy of the role but that’s no excuse to simply take them for lunch on their first day and then expect them to get on with it. You’ve invested in a series of interviews, continue this commitment with onboarding.

Investing in a serious onboarding plan will produce engaged employees who add value from day 1.

3. Look at candidate compatibility as well as capability

Understanding what someone places value on and ensuring this matches your companies values, will increase the engagement of that employee.

We’ve all said “I’ve got a great feeling about him/her” after a job interview. These assertions are often based on personality overvalues. Having a group of similar personalities is not conducive to a dynamic, progressive team as you often fall into the chasm of ‘groupthink’ . 

Instead, by looking at values, you can disagree with each other but dialectically progress, helping your company to be flexible and responsive to challenges. For those interested, this video by Simon Sinek gives a taster of this.

4. Build a strong employer brand and bring that to life through various channels

Young, smart talent is increasingly led by purpose over financial reward. Ensuring you get the best, and most compatible talent often comes down to how well you can articulate your purpose.

Your purpose should emanate through every touchpoint of your business; your content, website, employees and social media. If talent knows who you are and why you exist, they are making a conscious decision to apply to you because they, in part, align with your purpose.

You, therefore, gain access to this purpose-driven talent pool and the chances of you hiring an engaged employee dramatically increase.


Hiring is a topic that incurs many opinions and ultimately, personal experience will bring its own answers. However, hopefully, these four areas of focus offer value on how to increase your chances of getting the talent you want and how to engage them from day one.


This article was supplied by Leap9 - a people advisory built by a team who have scaled global unicorns.

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