Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to Hire the Best For Your Startup

No matter the niche, location, or size of your media startup, there's a horror-story-scenario that many media entrepreneurs fear - hiring the wrong person with disastrous results for your company.

As a graduate student at Northwestern University with a concentration in Media Strategy and Leadership, I recently heard from two media leaders who share this concern - Josh Albertson of and Jeremiah Seraphine of Groovebug. The wrong hire for a growing media company could not only stunt a growth strategy, it could cost you in sales.

So what can media startups do to ensure they hire the right people for the job? I collected some best practices from reliable sources. Here are three things you can do right now:

  1. Take your time. Most companies make hiring mistakes when they rush the search. Get along without filling the position for awhile if you have to. You'll be better off doing a little extra work now, rather than correcting a lot of work later.
  2. Maximize the resources you have. If you have a stand-out employee, ask them if they know anyone who would be a good fit for your open position. Birds of a feather flock together, so there's a good chance your fabulous employee knows a few people with the same work ethic and passion.
  3. Ask a candidate unusual and open ended questions. It can be incredibly difficult to really get to know someone during an interview. Meticulous observation can make the process efficient. Ask candidates questions he/she wasn't expecting. Maybe you ask a personal question about family, maybe it's a question about what makes him or her weird, just make sure your questions let you recognize the qualities you need. Take the interview outside of the office to shake things up a bit.

There's no surefire way to find and weed out good and bad candidates. Each plan should be catered to fit your leadership style and your company's culture. With a lot of skill and a little good fortune, you'll be on your way to building a top notch team.

Sheeka Strickland is a graduate student at Northwestern University where she is studying Media Strategy and Leadership. Sheeka came to Medill after six years as a reporter and anchor in newsrooms in Georgia and North Carolina.

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