Philly Startup Leaders president Rick Nucci grew his team at Boomi to roughly 30 before it was acquired by Dell in 2010. (As CTO, he said he was “less directly involved” when the company got bigger, “but always wanted to interview the strategic hires at some point in the process.”) More recently, Nucci has been building a team for his latest (stealth-mode) startup Guru.
Here are his tips on hiring, as posted on the Philly Startup Leaders listserv and reposted with permission.
- Hire for culture. If you hire a perfectly qualified asshole, you will regret it. Mostly because (1) they will mess up your internal communication, and (2) they will drive away other (non-asshole) team members.
- Choose aptitude over experience. That sounds oversimplified…you obviously need some baseline of experience, but when hiring someone in a new/emerging field (and in tech, there are so many of those), someone with great culture fit and strong apititude that is a little light on experience would still be a strong candidate for me.
- You test out your hires by hiring them. The short answer is no, you can’t REALLY test out a candidate (although you should understand in detail their past relevant projects and their specific role in them), but as a startup you have a huge advantage over a large company in that you can “hire fast, fire fast” (one of many advantages). It’s an overused phrase and sounds dramatic (“fire”) but really it is the path that is best for both you AND your new hire. If it’s not working out (and you will know very quickly), the best path for you and your new hire is for you to go your separate ways.
- Hire as a team. When you are small (under 10), have as much of the company on the interview team as possible. The hiring manager (who this person will report to) can run the process, and you can do interview teams to make it more efficient.
Knowledge is power!
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