A Few Thoughts on Hiring Folks...

... at the super-early stage.

Hey friend,

I’ve made a handful of hires this year and my own workflows have received a massive upgrade after having to be forced to do it so many times.

In fact, I think I’ve hired / fired 30+ folks over the last 3 years — I don’t say that to brag because, in many ways, that’s just fucking sad, but, it’s the truth and after a handful of resets / restarts, that’s where we are today.

It’s been a wild one, as you know.

I wrote an internal note to my team and I thought I’d share those thoughts here — I’d love your thoughts and feedback on this!

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Okay, so here are a few thoughts on super early-stage hires…

… now, early-stage hires are full of risk because you’re trying to make decisions quickly while also trying to assess the candidate’s ability to create impact and value for the team in the short and long-term… this is very hard and you often get it wrong but that’s okay because it’s a numbers game, in many ways.

And, since we’re also small, it’s unnecessary to institute a strict and formal interview workflow or standardize questions, at least at this time. Rather, the goal is to get to know their story and to get to know them as a person. A singular question that we’re trying to answer is this:

Why are they looking now and why is YEN the best place for them in their next season of life?

Simple questions, like this, can help illumine the deeper motives as well as create pathways for even more conversations — asking “why” is always a good idea.

Also, you’ll want to leave a lot of room for them to ask questions about us as this is oftentimes a more powerful way of describing our company and how we really operate which gives them the most trustworthy perspective of how we do work. t

What is the goal of our time together, individually and corporately? It’s so that they have zero surprises if they eventually join us — we want them to eventually say after a few weeks of work:

So far it’s been as-expected.

Hopefully it’s better! But, this would be a very, very acceptable statement.

Consequently, throughout the entire process we need to ensure that we shoot-straight with them, never over-sell the company (or me as a leader!!) and never try to make YEN look better than she really is.

We are an early-stage company with a lot of risk but with just as much opportunity and if we execute right, then, we’re going to kill this.

Interviewing is both an art and science — part of this process is learning your own style and flavor and at YEN you’ll have a lot of opportunities to practice.

Finally, here are a few strong, private questions I try to ask myself after my interview:

  1. Is this someone that I respect enough to work for?

  2. Is this someone that I know I can learn a great deal from?

  3. Is this someone who will make our culture better?

Of course, a few obvious things that will need to be in play:

  1. There needs to be evidence that they are a good writer.

  2. There needs to be evidence that they are self-directed.

  3. There needs to be evidence that they love learning.

If it’s a “YES!” for the top and bottom 3 questions, then, we’re in really good territory.

To infinity & community,

— john