As CTO, Mike has quickly helped grow Omnivore by bringing in the best talent available to help push the company's initiatives, partnerships, and integrations. By leading the hiring process, Mike can more effectively build on his team that has quickly grown the company from just a handful of people to over 30 employees nationwide. Mike is personally involved in all of the company’s technical hires, something that is rare for a CTO. Here are Mike's tips on how to be involved in recruiting and hiring as a CTO.
At times, hiring was taking about half of my time, and it's been the most important time I've ever spent. We've put together an amazing team of engineers, and it's only because we have that team that I have been able to focus more on the higher level and strategic objectives of the company as we've grown.
The people you already have are going to spend a lot of time working with new employees you bring on - way more than you will spend with them directly - so involve your team very early in the hiring process. They'll bring critical insights into what's missing from the team and how a candidate will fit into the existing team dynamics. No matter how great a candidate is, if they won't connect with the existing team, it won't work out.
You need to know what you're looking for in a candidate, but also how to identify and test for those things. Don't just copy a hiring process of a big technology firm without understanding why they do the things they do. The problems big companies face in hiring are very different than the challenges of building a new, small team from the ground up. The environment in startups can change rapidly and dramatically, so putting a team together that can adapt to those changes quickly and effortlessly is important. We focus way more on drive, passion, and the ability to learn than we do for any specific experience or expertise.
Hiring the wrong person will slow your team down and hold your product back, so make absolutely sure you're getting the right people. Take as much time as you need to find those people, and never hire just because you think you need more people. You don't need more people, you need the right people.
"You don't need more people, you need the right people." - Tweet This
That said, some people just won't work out, and there will be those that seemed perfect during the interview process but aren't performing at the same level on the job. Sometimes that person is just in the wrong role, and moving them around between projects or teams can resolve the issue and make everyone happier. When that's not the case, though, making the decision to let someone go is important for the health and success of the business. If someone's not performing, we ask ourselves, "Would we be moving faster if this person wasn't here?" An answer of "I don't know" or "Yes" both mean you have to make a change.
Build the team you'd want to work with for the rest of your career, and then give them everything they need to be successful. If you cut corners on any aspect of hiring, you're just hurting your own future, and the future of your team and your company.
Ask candidates, new hires, and teammates what's working about the hiring process, and what's not working. Cut the pieces that don't work, and improve on the parts that do work.