How to Screen Candidates When Hiring for Your Startup

Congrats: if you’re reading this, you’re considering hiring on help as your startup surges into a new phase of growth. That’s amazing news. Like any step in the startup game, though, it’s important to approach hiring new help with caution – one wrong hire, and your upward trajectory could be put into jeopardy.

The exact way that you screen candidates depends a lot on your exact industry. That said, there are still some common features to be aware of no matter what industry you work in. That’s what we’re reviewing today: the basic steps for screening candidates that your startup needs in order to ensure successful growth. 

Start with resume screening software

If you’re a cool, creative, and up-and-coming startup, you’re going to get a lot of applicants. People want to work for startups because, if they get in on the ground floor, the opportunity for growth and promotion is practically endless.

That means that you’re going to get a lot of applicants once your job postings go live. While that’s definitely a great problem to have – you’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to finding the most awesome talent – it’s also a hassle for your hiring manager and HR team. 

What can you do to streamline the process? Start with resume screening software. Innovative contemporary solutions include options that algorithmically sort qualified applicants from those who don’t quite have the right experience profile yet, saving human reviewers time – and saving your organization money. 

Once you’ve got a few resumes lined up that look promising, it’s time to start bringing applicants in for in-person (or at least video conference) interviews. 

Get creative with the interview process

The interview process is where you can truly dive in and get to know your potential applicant, their work experience, and their attitude toward challenges. And, while asking a handful of boiler-plate questions can be a reliable way to get your interview started, if you want to really make interviews successful, you’ve got to get creative. 

Here are a few ideas to workshop with your hiring team:

  • Include on-site tests: Copywriter challenges, coder tests, HR representative exams, SEO specialist tests, mechanical engineer puzzles – whatever position they’re applying to, you can devise some test of their skills to make sure they have what it takes. 
  • Get the team involved: Your team knows best what skills they’d want from a coworker. Get your team – or, for larger teams, just a few representatives – to conduct a portion of the interview. They might gain more insight, and experience a more honest version of the applicant, than interviews with management. 
  • Ask detailed questions: Don’t just stick to the standard “what is a strength and a weakness you have”. You won’t learn anything interesting. Study applicants’ resumes and ask detailed questions about their experience.

After the interview process, when you’re down to just a couple of finalists, it’s time to get serious about screening. 

Invest in a professional background check

Professional background checks are an absolute must for anyone in the startup game. With scammers, fraudsters, imposters, identity thieves, and intellectual property burglars lurking out there, you want to be absolutely certain you only bring on the most trustworthy people. 

If you’re not sure where to get a background check, there are plenty of options online. They will scan through decades of history, bringing up information on topics like:

  • Employment history
  • Education verification
  • Criminal history
  • Motor vehicle record history

This information can offer crucial insights into whether an applicant lied on any application material, or whether they can be trusted with your startup’s sensitive information and intellectual property. 

Always follow up with references

References may seem like an outdated part of the hiring process, but the truth is far from it. Professional references can actually give you key insights that can’t be found on a resume or in an interview. 

Your applicants might have strengths they didn’t even realize they have but that their references sing their praises for, for instance. Or, they might have worrying parts of their track record that you want to find out about from a primary source. 

Whatever the case may be, checking in on personal and professional references is just another way to gain critical insight, which is exactly what you need when screening candidates. Whatever process you choose to implement at your business, keeping your process thorough and professional is the key to ensuring a strong pool of applicants.