How to recruit great people: A comprehensive slide deck from one of the early investors in BuzzFeed

Take time to get it right.
Take time to get it right.
Image: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
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Hiring is hard, and getting it wrong is expensive. For startups and other small employers, the risks are even greater. Hiring the wrong person can consume management’s time, undermine morale and drive off other employees.

“We see a lot of first-time founders who are really great in the domain they know, but haven’t hired a team before, and they can have some really horrible, painful experiences,” said Maria Palma, an executive at RRE Ventures, who helps guide the companies backed by the venture capital firm.

After witnessing multiple startups having the same struggles, Palma and RRE published a detailed slide deck that walks hiring managers through every stage of the recruitment process. The 165-slide presentation includes tips on defining your company’s culture to attract the right employees, how to organize interviews, and where to find compensation data to set salaries.

Here is the deck:

Here’s a summary of the key recommendations:

  • Show your company’s perks and benefits on your website, along with photos of your team. Make sure prospective employees know the advantages of working for your company.
  • Take time to understand who you need and what their responsibilities and objectives should be, and use those insights to write an appealing job description.
  • Be proactive: Maintain a list of the most talented people in your field and hit them up for ideas about whom to hire. Add to the list of contacts and keep in touch with them.
  • Offer incentives to your employees for referrals but guard against a homogeneous pool of candidates, or you’ll end with a group that looks like what you already have. Don’t underestimate the power of diversity.
  • Tell candidates what to expect from the process, and have standardized response times, so they’re not left hanging if they don’t get the job. Not telling them they didn’t get the job reflects poorly on your company.
  • Interview with purpose. Don’t ask all candidates the same questions, and make sure all your interviewers don’t ask a candidate the same question.
  • Be diligent about background checks, and instead of relying on references supplied by the candidate, find your own to contact. Drill down for more information and read between the lines for what they’re not saying.
  • Once you’ve made your hire, invest in developing them. Make sure employees are challenged and engaged, and don’t wait for annual reviews to give feedback. You don’t want to be surprised if they leave because they weren’t happy.

The companies backed by RRE Ventures include BuzzFeed, Vine, and Venmo. While RRE generally gives advice to its companies in private, Palma said it made sense to share the hiring guidelines publicly because the problems are so universal.