Feedback on my hiring ways: Stuff you’d never pay attention to

As a startup founder, you are in your own world where you cut out the noise, don’t worry about irrelevant things like wearing formals, cut through the BS in a conversation, try to paint a vision in the midst of nothing (your office of 1-2 people). As such hiring is difficult for all companies (ask any CEO), when you are an early stage founder, you don’t have a boss to tell you where you are screwing up, you don’t have an HR person who knows exactly what it takes to get people to say YES.

So in this situation, getting some kind of feedback is really important. The problem is that most candidates who you passionately sell the idea to and who seem to be interested, but do not join, will never share honest feedback with you. Telling me that “I didn’t join because you are a startup” does not help but we are a startup.


I got a little lucky recently in that I got someone to get feedback from a candidate whom I interviewed.

1. This person had been recommended.

2. I had a 45 minute phone interview – he/she said all the right things and I asked him/her to come in for a face to face interview in my SOHO.

3. We had 1.5 hour face to face interview where we chatted about everything. It ended on a great note – I was supposed to intro her to one or two more people so that she got to know more about us.

But she never replied to my emails, or returned my calls.

Here is the feedback I managed to get:

She was not interested due to the following reasons:

  1. Risk Factor (New establishment)
  2. Transport (manage on her own)
  3. Office infrastructure
  4. She said that Ankur has potential but she did not like his dress code as he was wearing T-Shirt. J
  5. Compensation (She was advised that these details will be furnished post confirmation with the finance guy; no range was communicated to her)
  6. Ankur explained each bit about his establishment (It was extra dose for her)
  7. She had an hour and half long interview without any break (she was bored).
  8. She was been asked to switch off her mobile phone due to which she was not able to coordinate her pick-up and missed the cab and her parents were also worried.

This is the kind of stuff that typically doesn’t flow back to you. Saying she was never the startup-kind of person does not result in any learning.

Here’s my take on each of the points:

1. Can’t change the risk factor but can highlight the traction and find other soothing factors (how many others are planning to join).

2. No cash to match a big company’s perk of transport.

3. We work out of a small office in a residential area. It looks like a nice place to me (it has a Big Chill type ambience with a few movie posters). Can work harder on this.

4. Two ways to look at this – she was always going to be the wrong hire, no matter what. The better way to look at it is – the world outside the entrepreneurial world is not looking for the same thing. If wearing a shirt and sounding more straight-laced worked, maybe its worth trying out.

5. Good point. Easy thing to change for the future.

6. Wow (I’m a passionate about my business and can keep talking about it – need to know when to stop). People also think that you might have too much time on your hands. I don’t really know – this is some tricky psychology at work.

7. Bored in an interview! No comments.

8. 🙂 I could be more chilled out.

Hope this helps. Would be great if you could share your thoughts/learnings below.

I tweet at @singlaank – follow me here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s