Hiring is most often painful due to mismatch of demand and supply when quality is in question in Indian consumer web business. More so, when you’re running a bootstrapped startup because the margin for error is very thin and outcome definitely affects loss of time more than revenues/profits initially.

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But its something that no founder can avoid since with more employees comes scale which again helps the company to optimize & maximize its efforts to grow the company.

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So the best bet is to be spot-on with the hires. When we (me & AS) were hiring for WanaMo, we were very clear about the type of people we wanted to hire. We made it clear that we are not looking for people who are the typically 9-5 excel jockeys or computer bozos. What we were looking for was smart-ass people who can get things done without excuses.

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Easy to say but its not that easy to find because nowadays people are really smart and with a bunch of neatly filed CV’s and smart-fake-talks, its easy to be fooled about the right or bad decision.

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So during hiring process in both WanaMo & now DealsAndYou, I always follow certain protocols which always goes beyond the conventional norms of hiring by looking at the CV’s, education, background & sometimes experience also.

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I’ll list down few of those hiring hacks which I’ve followed and which have given dividends at many levels:

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1. Look for opinionated people: Now the trick is to converse along with the interviewee and see how much opinionated is he regarding specific topic (ideally about the domain you’re hiring). And when people have strong opinions about things — when they can talk at length about something — it’s a good indication that they’re passionate about it [hear here].

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2. Damage control: They say you can judge a person by looking at how he handles crisis situation. Asking them if they have faced something like this in their professional life and how they coped or handled it is a good measure of how he/she would fare when your startup goes through a rough patch. If anybody says, he hasn’t faced, you know what to do.

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3. Craftsmanship: I’ve seen many early stage startups hire specialists. Don’t know how it has fared for others but I’m not impressed with the idea. When you’re hiring for your early stage startup, you should look to hire people who are mere reflection of you; who’s a passionate generalist and can handle many different things at one time. Although the mix should be quite balanced since the hired person should be good at his domain but having a generalist always helps. For example, if you’re hiring a developer, get someone who can also turn into a part-time designer for the time being (note: its not easy to convert a developer into a designer). It helps to balance your cost base, optimize your resources & hence prepare a guy for the future when the business grows (Note: such hacks should be followed with supervision of yourself).

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4. Mastery: Hire somebody who has mastered something. They say, mastery in anything is a really good predictor of mastering something else too.

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5. Communicator: Lots of HR managers & startup founders talk about this; hell even put it in each & every JD that is there on the face of the earth but hardly follow this and put it away in the last bracket of hiring reasons. Now one of the reasons why startup founders should really really give heed to this is simple – you can’t be knowledgeable about everything in your company. So having people around you who can translate his domain knowledge in easy plain lingo saves the day for everybody. I’ve personally used this hack to prune developers to make life easy for everybody around.

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These are the critical 5 hacks I’ve followed till date while hiring. If you observe carefully, almost all the pointers lead to one very critical component of my hiring principles – Passion. Many a times, even though a person is “too good to be true” sort of hire, I’ve stayed away seeing lack of passion for the work. And luckily or fortunately it has worked for me till date.

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Hope you guys can also hack some of your own ideas and make this cycle little less steeper for you guys. Till then adios!

Note: btw Sameer of Morpheus has written a very interesting article on hiring methods. Its surely helpful.

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