How Can Your Startup Find the Right Workers?

As a startup, you need to hire great employees who are passionate about your company and want to help bring new levels of success. You want employees who will work hard and put in their best effort every day. You also want to avoid hiring incompetent employees. Hiring the wrong workers can cost you a lot of time and money. The sunk costs of paychecks, training, and benefits, all go down the drain once an employee leaves the company. This leaves all new entrepreneurs with a very important question: How can they find the best workers for their startup?

The most common way of finding new applicants is by posting your job opening on sites like Craigslist or Monster. Make sure that your application is extremely thorough and includes the pay rate, necessary skills, a detailed job description, and the required experience. Applicants should be required to submit a cover letter and samples of their work, if at all possible.

These methods are effective, but you will likely gather dozens and dozens of applicants, many of which may just be unqualified people looking for work. Alternatively, you can use sites like LinkedIn to laser-target job seekers with the skills you are looking for. Staffing agencies are another suitable option as they often do most of the work for you. The agency will try to provide you with workers who have the skills and experience you’re looking for. Many of these agencies also conduct background checks to look for any criminal history.

The most important thing to look for in job candidates is a high level of emotional intelligence. “More than a century of research shows IQ is the best predictor of the job you can get and hold,” psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in The Huffington Post. “It takes a high ability level in handling cognitive complexity to be in a profession like medicine, a C-suite executive, or a professor at a prestigious business school.”

Emotional intelligence is “the ability for someone to recognize, understand, manage, and respond to emotions in themselves and others.” Goleman identified five key signs of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skills, and empathy. Emotionally intelligent people work hard, resist temptation, empathize with others, and know how to communicate effectively. These qualities are especially important in sales and leadership roles.

A great way to determine a candidate’s emotional intelligence is by asking questions that evaluative their mindset. Find out their values, passions, and goals. Ask them why they want the job and what important qualities they look for in a job position. Ask them about their passions and goals. Ask what they want to contribute to the company and, in return, what they hope to get out of their experience.

You should also ask about past behaviors. Find out what the candidate has done in the past and how they have learned from those experiences. Ask about their greatest successes and failures. Ask them how they overcame challenges, handled difficult situations, or how they helped other people achieve their goals. This will help give you a good idea of the candidate’s work ethic and attitude. These questions can also help identify toxic employees who don’t step up to do their work or instead try to put the blame on everyone else but themselves.

Sometimes you actually need to see employees in action before you can properly evaluate them. Mona Bijoor of Joor found a solution to weed out the bad hires and only keep the rock star employees. She hires prospective employees on three-month contracts with 30-day milestones. If the employees can reach those milestones, they get to stay on the team. This technique not only puts the employee’s skills to the test, but it also lets the employer see how the prospective candidate interacts with team members and fits in with the company culture.

Offering internships is another similar and equally effective method. Many companies, especially startups, hire interns and pay them monthly salaries to cover travel expenses. The salaries are obviously not comparable to the rates paid to full-time employees, but will help keep the intern working until you can properly decide whether or not they should remain in the company.

Of course, this might not work for experienced job seekers who have better things to do than working as a contractor for a startup. You can conduct shorter tests in order to evaluate the job candidate’s skills. For example, candidates who apply for Payless Shoes are asked to try and sell shoes to a hypothetical customer (usually played by the interviewer). The job candidate tries to be as friendly and approachable as possible while still attempting to sell as many items as they can.

You can also implement a multi-measure test which measures personality, cognitive abilities, and integrity. Psychologist Frank Schmidt found that multi-measure tests were the most effective way of evaluating a candidate’s performance because they account for several factors regarding the candidate’s ethics, values, and abilities. It is important that these tests have a “candidness scale” to account for deception as well. Many standard personality tests are very inaccurate because employees can easily select the answer that reflects the greatest on them.

Remember that it is also important to weed out the potentially bad hires right from the beginning. Look for common signs of toxic employees such as a bad attitude, lack of motivation, and a propensity to create drama. Hiring a toxic employee will only waste your time and money and negative attitudes can easily affect the moods of every other employee.

About the Author: Patrick W. Dunne is currently a writer for and mostly writes about topics like business, leadership, productivity, finance, and marketing. He graduated from Chaminade University with a B.A. in Business Administration and a minor in Psychology. If you wish to contact him, send an e-mail to or send a message to his LinkedIn profile.