Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

4 Skills and Traits to Look for in Startup Candidates

4 Skills and Traits to Look for in Startup CandidatesYou’ve just started your new business and it’s time to start hiring your first employees!  Before you ever begin interviewing, it is important for you to determine what you want your company culture to look like and the types of employees you want on your team.  Regardless of what you decide, there are several skills and traits that you should look for when interviewing candidates.

1. Flexibility

With all startups, there will be constant changes.  You are just getting started and figuring things out, so methods of conducting business will likely change several times before you find solid methods that work well each time.

When you’re interviewing candidates for this skill, ask them questions about their past work experiences.

Did they only work in places that were established and had well-written standard operating procedures? 

How often did their policies change in order to accommodate customers?

How involved was the candidate with changes in procedures and policies?

Ask candidates to provide specific examples.  Make sure that candidates are well aware of the job they are interviewing for.  If the job requires that the candidate be responsible for creating department procedures or policies, make this known.

2. Sense of Urgency

In the beginnings of your company, your staff will need to act quick and respond with a sense of urgency.  You may be competing with much larger companies that have well established reputations.  This means that you will have little time to lolly-gag around when it comes to getting the job done for your customers.

Quick turn around, accuracy, and a “get it done”attitude are a must in any startup.  Your employees will need to be able to act quickly and be persistent in finding solutions to problems each and every day.

When interviewing for this skill, you should ask candidates to provide examples of times when they were dealing with a customer issue, what they did, and how long it took them to get the job completed. Also, ask general questions such as…

When responding to emails and phone calls, what is your turn around time?

How do you prioritize your day? 

How does it affect your day when an urgent situation arises? What do you do?

3. Doers and Risk Takers

When starting your new business, you need worker bees instead of supervisors or managers.  After all, there is nothing to supervise or manage right away when a company is in its beginning stages.  Quite often, you will find that your company has little organization in the beginning.  You may have one person handling tasks for multiple departments.  In fact, you may even be handling multiple departments yourself!

In order to survive and succeed in the first stages of your startup, you will need to make sure you are hiring people who are hands-on doers and risk takers.

When interviewing for this skill, ask questions such as…

What types of jobs have you held before? 

What were your hands-on responsibilities?

When you were faced with a situation that required an immediate decision but you were unable to reach your manager, what did you do?

4. Positive Attitude

Above all, you need people with positive attitudes in your small business.  Building a startup is not easy, for the owner or the employees.  The ability to adjust to changes, quickly overcome obstacles, and stay positive is a must.  There will be no time for negativity or moping around when things don’t go as planned.

When interviewing for this skill, be sure to ask candidates to tell you about a time when things did not go as planned on a project they were working on.  Have them explain to you how they reacted and what they did.

What are some of the skills and traits you look for in candidates when hiring for your startup?  Please share your tips in the comments below.

Image: monkeybusinessimages/

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Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.

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