Startup Company Culture - Part Two: Hiring
8 minute read
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James Fox

In part two, we’re going to explore hiring to scale your business, something that can drain a huge amount of time and money if it isn’t handled well. These are our tips for building a great team;

Recruiters versus in-house

The truth is that there is no silver bullet to finding good potential employees. Recruitment agencies offer the opportunity to get access to a database of people quickly, and many in our industry tend to sign up with agencies as a default. The downside is that you’ll pay handsomely for the service, and will need to be cautious in selecting a recruiter who’s values echo your own.

Taking on all of the work yourself lets you control the quality but can be hugely time consuming. The myriad job boards cover a huge range, from niche specialist to faceless juggernaut. Our favourite combination at the moment is to use Workable for managing the interview process, which also gives us access to a lot of the free boards in one hit. We then place ads on specialist boards where we think our best fit potential new team members are likely to be looking. We’re close to the University of the Arts London, and have found their Creative Opportunities site to be good for entry-level roles.

Leverage your own network

Hiring on recommendation is a great way to make sure you hire the best people. Make sure you reach out to your network on any channels you use - you never know who might be looking or know someone who is. It’s also worth throwing some budget into encouraging your existing staff for referrals too.

Hire for potential and cultural fit

Your priorities when looking for new employees should focus on potential and cultural fit. It’s always easier to train specific skills than it is to teach so called ‘soft’ skills. Obviously you’ll need to ensure that whoever you employ can fulfil the specific requirements of your job, but the best people are the ones you can rely on to contribute right across your business.


Interviewing deserves (and might get at some point) its own post, but these are some of the fundamentals to help keep you on track;

  • Prepare - spend time reading and preparing questions before the interview. It seems obvious but many interviewers fail to do so, and it shows. Being an expert interviewer will only ever mean you can get ready more quickly

  • Two heads are better than one - ask someone to join as a second opinion. Divide responsibilities if that’s appropriate, we often have one to concentrate on skills and one to concentrate on culture

  • Dig deep - ask open questions to get the ball rolling, and then interrogate those answers to find out what you want to know. For example, ask about a project the candidate is most proud of as an opener to find out a) what they did in that project b) how they like to work c) what their skills are

Eliminate bias

It’s a fact that more diverse teams produce better work and more innovative solutions. Be conscious of your potential bias, read up about how women often find themselves judged more harshly than men for the same personality traits - is a good place to start. Facebook have published some great video content around unconscious bias, which well worth watching as a management team.

Ask for references

We normally wait until we’re about to confirm an offer before we check for references, and treat it as a final check. It’s not a part of the hiring process as such, but helps us identify if there are any potentially large problems that might have slipped through the interview process net.

Finding the best and most efficient way to recruit is certainly a learning curve. If you’re smart, entrepreneurial and looking for a new job,  you could save us some time and drop us a line at