Startups & Hiring Dilemma [The Checklist]

Hiring the right mix of people in an early stage of a start up is as critical as having the right co-founders. Having learnt the hard way I would like to match some typical traits of employees and my experiences with them while creating a team when I started off. I hope it would help any budding entrepreneur to make his own checklist before selecting his comrades for the big fight ahead.

Don Corleone's Checklist

Preparing for MBA

These types of employees are generally the smart ones and obviously this line is not seen on their resume. One needs to dig deep during an interview to find the reality. Stay away from them as the only reason they would need to work in a start up is for an experience letter to crack their CAT interview or GMAT.

Non Committed but Talented

This is some quality which is rarely visible during the interview or hiring process. A probation period is the best period to identify the same. They will be talented, you will find the right work being delivered but the passion, commitment and dedication that a start-up generally requires will always be missing as they cannot identify with the long term goals of the company. What they end up doing is ‘One bad Apple’ principle where they end up infecting the work culture of everyone around which is even detrimental.

Houdini disappearing act

An employee to stick to a start up has to go through an initial culture shock (if they have never worked in a start up before) where there is extreme stress and keeping up with energy and passion of other colleagues looks impossible. It results in a lot of them disappearing in the first month; if they can stick longer consider them IN for a long time.

Bad track record

Sometime back we had a guy called as Hardik (surname concealed) interning with us, we somehow accepted him on a hunch even though he was technically weak. On a casual conversation after he had joined I came to know that he had quit 2 companies before in a week of joining them and the track record continued, he disappeared inside a month and stopped answering calls. A check of track record and I would have avoided this incident and all the efforts spent.


More than a year back we had a blackberry developer whom we had to send onsite at the client side for a few months. (Let’s call him Dheeraj) Unfortunately we didn’t have a non-poaching agreement with the client (disaster!) and one fine day Dheeraj resigned on email. After having a chat with him, he denied having joined the client company. Obviously we lost the client account but what it taught me was invaluable. For start ups with an open culture, the ethics of employees plays an important part in going the distance. For Dheeraj he had to create alternative social media accounts, and couldn’t add both companies together on his ‘worked for’ list and may face issues later during his background check.


These species are typically found switching jobs frequently. One needs to be careful especially while recruiting experienced folks. The intent behind the switch needs to be really loud and clear and convincing. You surely don’t want guys who jump at the first sight of an opportunity when you are recruiting the first set of people in your start up. We had an employee who quit and joined Polaris since they were offering a better pay (Obviously) but what he missed was he was at a supervisory position with us but there he was on a maintenance project. After more than a year I got a call asking me for an experience certificate ‘As a Supervisor’ for more than his experience since Polaris obviously declined to give him one as he wanted to join an MBA course.

Employees need to understand that working in a start-up will give them more than what they are able to visualize at that point of time. Talking to one of the founders and discussing their future plans makes more sense than jumping at the first sign of an opportunity. It’s also the founders’ responsibility to show everyone a bigger picture of what the company is headed to and what is in it for everyone when the time comes maintaining complete transparency.

[About the author: Divyesh Kharade is the Co-Founder and CEO of Deltecs a company which endeavors to take employee and customer engagement to the next level through its flagship product DRONA. Having done his engineering from Mumbai University he also serves as an advisor on the board of one more startup. Divyesh is on Twitter at @divyeshkharade]

Good Reads (related to hiring in startups):

5 Tips On Filtering Sales Resumes For A Startup

Of Roles & Titles In Startups [First Deserve, Then Desire]

Of Different Categories of Startup Employees, Bollywood And A Call For Leadership

The Co-Founder & Start-up Hiring [Hire From Your Network]

Comparison of Compensation Structure For Startup Employees [An Employee’s Perspective]

Things to Know Before You Hire A “Rock Star” Employee [Will Always Have A Side Project]

Practical Tips on Hiring “Crazy Geeks” for Your Startup

How Indian Startups should Hire Product Management Function?

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