5 Ways Startup Founders Botch Their First Year of Hiring

Running a startup is stressful. One way that Founders get it right is by hiring the right people.  Here are 5 ways startup founders botch their 1st year (and sometimes, 2nd, and 3rd year of hiring).  Let’s identify some startup hiring mistakes.

Misunderstanding “Culture Fit”

Only hiring your friends? Seems nice? Sounds smart? Similar pedigree?

Uh oh…

What’s a good “culture fit” anyways?

True culture fit is a sharing of values and styles of working.

Not just “good vibes only”.

The right culture fit will seamlessly integrate into your work environment and compliment and harmonize with your existing team.

The wrong fit creates discord.

While friends, nice people, smart people, or those familiar to us can be comfortable hires, it’s your core values that really drive harmony and productivity.

Make sure you establish effective guidelines to identify “culture fit” or else you might be hiring very nice people who don’t work well with your team.

Using the Wrong Signals to Evaluate Talent

“Ivy grads only?” Think Google has the best engineers? “Don’t know Golang – get out.” “Passed our coding test, must be good?”


While all these signals point to qualities of value, none of these variables will ever be the determining factor of a candidate’s competence and relevance to your company.


Failing to identify and measure the key variables of success leading to an effective hire = missed opportunities and a painfully ineffective culture.

What to do?

Take time to evaluate which competencies/accomplishments are necessary to succeed in your environment and develop interview techniques to directly assess those qualities.

Pipeline Killing Interview Process

Taking more than 2-3 weeks to make a decision? Always one more person to talk to? Never offer feedback? Need an SAT score along with that take-home test?


In an attempt to streamline the interview process or to create more certainty around a potential hire, many startups make candidates jump through hoops to be selected for a position.

Extra or inefficient steps create candidate pipeline drop-off and lower a candidates interest in you as a potential employer.

Look, we get it.

You need to make sure you’re making the right decision.

But so do they.

Make sure you’ve developed a process that efficiently validates fit, sells upside, and keeps those candidates continually updated, in the loop, and happy to be talking to you.

Bad Hiring Time Management

Are you:

A) Rushing to hire candidates (that turn out “meh”)


B) Never pulling the trigger (or growing your company)?


When the stakes are high, key hiring can get a little funky.

Desperation leads to rushing the wrong people into your organization.

Fear drives founders to wait for the perfect candidate.

Both kill productivity, forward movement, AND fun.

So, what to do?

Create an efficient and effective hiring pipeline and process that truly validates fit and allows you to make a swift and informed decision.

Not too fast, not too slow. And LOTS of good choices.

Over/Under Pay Engineers

Ever pay $30,000 over budget for an engineer that turns out “blah”?

Didn’t hire that guy who later built AWS’s core product?

We’ve all made big mistakes when hiring…

But how do we make sure we’re winning, when talking about compensation?

First, know this:

Between salaries, onboarding, mistakes, drama, and replacement costs, a bad hire typically puts a startup back $100,000 or more.


Getting the right hire is easily worth an extra $10,000-$30,000.


If you don’t know how to hire, consistently overpaying to get the wrong candidates will put you out of business.

What’s the Solution?

What your company can do to compete when hiring great people…

Find candidates who fit the startup mentality, can solve your problems, and value you enough to take your equity seriously; but value themselves enough to get paid fairly.

Certain candidates are simply not meant to work for startups, so identifying the right ones puts you in a position to pay a little more when you need to.

P.S. Most startups fail – so don’t rely only on equity alone to get candidates to join

All of these tips sounds easy.

But between running a business, building a product, and keeping your sanity, a specialized technical recruiting partner can help you avoid startup hiring mistakes by cut through the noise and bring you quality candidates.


Let’s get your next superstar! Save yourself time and money – contact HIRECLOUT today.