Can You Tell if a Candidate is Startup Fit? - Atomic Hire Blog
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Can You Tell if a Candidate is Startup Fit?6 min read

August 16, 2019 4 min read


Can You Tell if a Candidate is Startup Fit?6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s face the truth, what makes a good employee in a fast-growing startup is very different from the ideal employee profile in a large corporation.

There are certain skills needed for an employee to succeed in a large, established company that would be totally out of place in a startup environment. On the other hand, the ideal profile for an early-stage startup that needs people willing to roll up their sleeves comfortable with the lack of structure might not be well suited for a corporate role.

It is not easy to distinguish one profile from the other, and the consequences of hiring the wrong fit can be damaging. That’s why it’s important to take into account startup fit when hiring a new team member.

Startup employees

The Importance of Hiring Right for Startups

Hiring is critical for all business, but even more so for startups. Each employee has an impact on shaping company culture and defining its future, for better or worse. The smaller the team, the higher the impact of a single employee.

It’s quite common that the first employees in a startup will be working as a one-person team and later build their own teams as the startup matures. This structure puts these early employees in a key position that can be a determining factor of the company’s success.

In general, startups in their initial stages depend on very few people. This is the very reason why startup founders are always more confident in hiring candidates who they already know or they have worked with before. This might work to some extent, but can be limiting in the long-term.

The time will come when a startup will need to take a leap of faith and start hiring people they don’t know, people they haven’t worked with before. Complete strangers. Sounds scary? It is. This transition can be tricky poses a threat to the future success of a business. To hire the best people to join your startup team, you first need to understand what kind of employee you are looking for.

Who You Should Hire for Your Startup Team

What’s the perfect fit you want to hire as a startup founder? This is what you should look for in new hires: 

1. Innovation 

Innovation drivers are always the best hires for startups. These are the employees who are always ready to take the necessary risks to make things happen. As a startup founder, you should not always seek out for tactless daredevils. You should rather, look for courageous go-getters who can calculate and identify potential risks. People who know how far they can take your startup and are prepared to adapt as required to accelerate your growth.

2. Determination

It is not easy to work in a startup. Employees who outshine in that environment hold an exceptional position. With their flexibility and skill, they can create something great. Candidates must have the grit and strength to understand that working in a startup is not a job, but a lifestyle.

3. A CEO Mindset

Hiring a person who thinks like a CEO can have a great impact on your startup. You are looking for a person who can take decisions, keeping in mind the business impact and putting your customer always first. Thinking out of the box and going out of the way to achieve things is what you should look for in a candidate.

4. Desire to Learn

In a startup, the only guarantee is change. The changes you’ll experience building a startup are a reflection of universal changes in our society as a whole, meaning that many of the skills that are important today will be irrelevant in the future. You have to make sure that the people on your team are on the top of their game and are always finding ways to learn and improve. 

6. Passion

A passionate team is the foundation of a successful startup. You should hire passionate people who will embrace your company’s values and work tirelessly to see your startup vision come to life. Remember that things can get tough as your startup grows so it is crucial to be surrounded by people who are passionate about your company and truly believe in it.

7. Accountability

This goes without saying. Accountability is among the most significant traits of any employee working at a startup. This means the willingness to be held to the goals, deadlines and promises made. Leading a startup, you need a team who you can trust to do what they say. You won’t have time to micromanage and can’t afford missed deadlines.

The Recruitment You Need in Different Startup Stages

The employee lifecycle model is a method to visualize what type of employees and recruitment methods you’ll need at different startup stages from the early days until you reach an established status.

The first 10 employees

Every startup has a specific goal. That does not mean your first few hired employees must have the particular skillsets to accomplish that goal. Startup companies in their early days need a team of a few dynamic people who can efficiently tackle all the early startup challenges.

Those first 10 employees are going to be the vision-holders of the company so make sure you have the right people.

11-100 employees

As your startup starts to mature, so should your recruitment processes.

By this time, you should have an effective hiring team and your procedures must be running like clockwork. People involved in recruitment must possess a clear understanding of the role they are hiring for and the type of people who will succeed in your company.

Bonus Tip: To boost your recruitment process at this stage, you should consider a free recruitment tool that will accommodate your hiring needs. Try Atomic Hire for free.

100+ employees

Now you are officially an established startup.

At this stage, the requirements for particular roles are greater than ever. Startup companies that have grown past 100 employees must consider an internal talent acquisition team that will support your management team in attracting and selecting the best employees.

At this stage, your company culture is also more mature, and you’ll have a clear vision of the types of people your team needs and who is more likely to succeed and bring value to your company.


We invest a lot of time and effort into the recruitment process for all good reasons. Hiring the wrong candidate in the early days of a startup is not only a waste of time and money. It can damage permanently your company culture and decrease your chances to succeed. The very few employees in a startup are critical. So don’t cut any corners and make sure you hire people that have the ideal startup profile to bring your vision to life.

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