Startup Recruiting 101: Building a Winning Team

Navigating the recruiting process to help your startup thrive


Boris Manhart

10 months ago | 4 min read

Navigating the recruiting process to help your startup thrive

Photo: Erik Lucatero / Unsplash

As a startup founder, building a strong team is essential to your company’s success. But recruiting the right people can take time and effort, especially when trying to grow your business on a tight budget. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of building a winning team.

In this blog post, I’ll share five tips on navigating the recruiting process and building a team that will help your startup thrive. The tips are based on my experience building startup teams of up to 80 employees while making many mistakes that you can avoid:

1. Involve your team in the hiring process

One of the most effective ways is to involve your existing team members in the hiring process. When you make such a decision alone, there’s a higher risk of making a bad hire. But when you involve your team, you’ll get input and buy-in from people who already know your company and its culture. This will ensure that new hires will fit in well with the existing team and will be more likely to succeed in your startup environment.

Frankly, I was terrible at hiring for team fit and culture. When I started involving my team that time at a startup called CodeCheck a couple of years ago, I never let one person go again.

2. Don’t get too impressed with shiny resumes and track records

When recruiting new team members, getting caught up in the hype of a candidate’s experience and track record is easy. But while this information is important, it’s even more important to assess a candidate’s potential to succeed in your specific startup environment. For example, a candidate with a lot of experience in a big corporate setting may not be the best fit for a fast-paced startup.

I hired people with incredible CVs and a lot of experience in corporate settings or research and failed. They couldn’t handle working with limited resources and doing “not perfect” stuff and, eventually, complained a lot instead of fixing it.

3. Hire slow

When trying to grow your business, it can be tempting to rush into hiring decisions to fill vacancies as quickly as possible. But it’s important to remember that it’s better to take the time to find the right person for the job than to rush into a decision and end up with a bad fit. So, even when you need to fill a vacancy fast, take the time to hire slowly and invest a vast amount of your time into hiring. It’s your number one job as a founder or startup CEO.

For me, hiring is my number one job, and I dedicate a lot of time to it. For key hires, I prefer to start on a freelance or project base and then turn it into a full-time contract once I’m sure it’s a great fit.

4. Hire people better than you

Another effective way to build a winning team is to hire people who are better than you in various areas. Hiring more experienced, more friendly, and smarter people bring knowledge and experience and complete the technical and non-technical competencies, ensuring the company’s success. This will help your team grow and develop and will also bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives to your company.

I remember that in my early days as a founder, I was uncomfortable hiring people who were better than me. I wanted to be the best, and that’s ego. It does not help the company succeed. If you feel uncomfortable, you haven’t found your role as a leader yet.

5. Get help

Feel free to seek help from your advisors, board members, or investors when recruiting new team members. These people can provide valuable insights and connections to help you find suitable candidates. They can also offer advice on assessing a candidate’s potential to succeed in your specific startup environment or even take part in interviews.

I always invite domain experts, board members, and investors to interviews. My experience is that they usually give great (and free) advice since they do it much more often than me.

Bonus tip

Invest in a great onboarding experience: To ensure your new staff will be operational quickly, invest in a great onboarding experience. Plan and give them the right process, tools, and resources to get up to speed soon. A good onboarding process will help your new hires feel welcome, valued, and supported, and it will help them integrate well into your team.

At my previous gig, TRIQ, we implemented a cutting-edge onboarding process, and our employees were up to speed in just two to four weeks. I wrote another post on this in 2021.

Building a winning team is essential to the success of your startup.

From experience, it costs a lot of time and energy to fix an organization that went in the wrong direction. The impact on motivation, team happiness, and productivity is massive. Know your values and the culture you want to build and hire accordingly.

By the way, I just started my “Product-Market Fit & Beyond” newsletter. By signing up, you will get access to the tools, resources, and expert guidance you need to take your idea to product-market fit and beyond. Sign up here.


Created by

Boris Manhart

I'm a serial entrepreneur and startup advisor at GROWTH UNLTD. Get your startup to product-market fit and beyond:







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