The art and science behind hiring the right people

The art and science behind hiring the right people

Last summer, MaRS hosted a Talent Best Practices event featuring David Au-Yeung, who is a managing director and the chief talent officer at Flipp. Connecting retailers with consumers, Flipp was invented to make weekly shopping faster and easier.

David is widely recognized as a recruiting expert and many startups stand to benefit from his experience. The event centred around some of the frameworks and processes that could help startups improve and scale interviews. I was inspired to capture several key takeaways.

Find employees that fit

One of David’s most important points highlighted the fact that having a plan and a process prevents organizations from making hiring mistakes. It also vastly increases their chances of “bringing the right people on the bus”, with effective interviewing.

Flipp’s co-founder gave humorous insights into some of the errors and misjudgments made during the company’s early days, such as hiring over coffee meetings and being oblivious to bias. The price of making the wrong hire is high. He illustrated that generally speaking, the cost could include all of the following:

  • Direct and indirect expenses (agency fees, salaries, training and time).
  • A negative impact on culture, affecting employee morale and the company’s core values.
  • A negative impact on product or customer relations.

6 steps to improving your interview process

Would you like your startup to minimize the pitfalls associated with making the wrong hire? Then simply follow David’s tips:

  1. Create and over-communicate your principles or values internally and externally.
  2. Develop a hiring philosophy that is linked to your startup’s values.
  3. Hire for fit, but don’t just use it as a fancy term — define exactly what “fit” means and link that to the interview process.
  4. Create a structured interview process. Your interview techniques could be performance or competency based — focus on past performance, asking candidates how they contributed to specific projects. Depending on the position, you could also set a practical task, for example:
    • Technical: If you are hiring a programmer, you must ask coding questions.
    • Culture: Give job candidates a crazy challenge to see how they go about solving it. This might give an indication of whether they will be a good fit with your existing employees. Take advantage of some new tools, such as Fortay, to measure candidate fit.
    • Management/Sales: Ask them to complete a “take home” piece, such as a presentation for a panel or a proposal.
  5. Hone your decision making:
    • Clarify what you are looking for.
    • Introduce processes, such as score cards, frameworks or methodologies.
    • Build an expert team of interviewers, with training and accountability, to ensure the process is followed.
    • Ensure everyone is on the same page. Your process is only as strong as your interviewers.
    • Test and track constantly, then learn and realign. Always look for ways to scale and try new things.
  6. Take advantage of books that will inspire you to define your startup’s culture and hiring methods:
    • Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras.
    • The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

This post assumes a comprehensive understanding of startup culture and values, including how to develop and preserve them. If you need a refresher, take a look at the following videos.

Defining a startup culture

The difference between recruiting and building your team

About David Au-Yeung

David Au-Yeung is the chief talent officer and co-founder of Flipp, a leading mobile consumer marketplace that is reinventing the weekly shopping experience. One of Flipp’s goals is to build and maintain a culture of like-minded people who are “hungry, humble and highly intelligent.” These employees are also passionate about entrepreneurship and reinvention.

David works to ensure that Flipp’s culture of team unity and camaraderie is maintained among staff as the company grows. Consequently, Flipp is well-positioned to attract leading talent from across North America. He oversees the talent management team that has grown Flipp from a startup to a venture of more than 300 high-performing and engaged employees. Under David’s leadership, Flipp has been rewarded for its unique culture.

Flipp secured $61 million in funding from growth equity firm General Atlantic (2015). The company also received several industry accolades, including Deloitte’s 50 Best Managed Companies (2015), Best Workplaces in Canada (2014 and 2015), Canada’s Most Admired CEO (2015) and Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures (2014).