How to be a Success: How to hire employees

Featured image by Hermes Rivera

The key to financial freedom, to becoming more influential and to scaling to the point where you can be super successful is by leveraging your time. The way you do this is to hire people to do your work for you.

This isn’t easy. How do you hire people who will successfully transfer your vision, your goals and your brand into the world?

Here’s an introduction to some of the factors to consider when considering to hire your first employee.

How to hire employees:

At the start, you will most likely be small time, like me now, and many start-ups around the world. So how do small time start-ups attract the team they need to build something great when they don’t have the size and power of established big business. The trick is to sell the vision and appeal to people who believe in what you are doing.

All over the world there are innovative and dynamic people who are looking for something to believe in. Start-ups can look for interns and consultants, who will work for free or for minimal wages. People like University students and young professionals looking to develop themselves and spread into new and vibrant industries.

However, in order to do this, you need to sell yourself as a new area for people to gain new skills or as a new exciting idea that true professionals want to be a part of. (‘Finding employees on a Startup budget’, Entrepreneur, Published on Jan 17, 2013.)

Initial challenges and approaches:

In the beginning you will obviously not have a HR department. So, you will be lacking in experts who know all the tips and tricks of hiring and processing employees. Also, all the extra processes of payroll and taxes and so on will be a complete mystery.

But if you take it step by step, you will gradually learn the process and learn how to build an excellent team.

The first step, according to ‘Tips for Hiring your First Employee’ – (YouTube Entrepreneur 10 Oct 2012), is to create an ideal employee avatar.

Start positive by imagining the perfect employee you could have for your perfect business.


  • work ethic,
  • skills,
  • responsibilities

And so on.

Once you know what you’re looking for consider where and how you will find that ideal person and how you can get them to join your team. Remember, think of your ideal employee in terms of a passionate true believer and you will be on your way to knowing what will motivate them to want to join.

Next, you need to handle tax and legal. There’s no easy way around it. In the beginning, you may be able to get by on the sly, but if you want to build a real professional organisation and have dynamic superstars on your team, then you need to take care of them and treat them like professionals.

Long story short – talk to accountant. You could always take a course, but if it’s not your strong suit, you’re better off hiring one. Or better still, if you can find a true believer who has the skills, consider inviting them to build the company with you.

Another interesting note brought up by The Entrepreneur, is the need for legal awareness. They suggest having a NDA (non disclosure agreement) before trialling or hiring employees. This way you can protect your trade secrets. You also, need to be aware of insurance and tax issues.

Long story short; while finding an employee may be as simple as creating an online application with one of the several online sheet generators, you need to know who you want and you need to ensure you are aware of the dangers and have the resources you need to protect your business right from the start.

The next step is to put the word out there. Tap your network, share and put the word out, use online applications, post an add and get people interested. With todays modern technology it’s never been so easy to advertise and find just the right person you are looking for. (Tips for Hiring your First Employee – Entrepreneur 10 Oct 2012)

Now you’re ready to hire, what are you looking for?

Here, I found Patrick Bet-David’s advice particularly good and easy to follow. He says, a good rule of thumb to follow is, “Hard to hire, easy to fire”. This is a sentiment echoed by many influences I’ve studied. However, he says once you get used to the process, you won’t need to worry – you will pick the ones that are right and they will want to stay.

His 4 things to hire for:

  1. Love – You want to find people who love the vision, who love the company. People who are interested and want to get involved. If they have love for the business then employees will do whatever needs to be done to build the business and get the job done. 

  2. Trust – You need to find people you trust. But you also need people who are trusting and can be part of the team. People who you can trust with your vision and people who trust you enough to bring their ideas and their work to the table. I think it’s obvious that if you can’t trust someone then you should employee them. However, on the other side that’s also a good point. You want people who trust you and who trust their fellow employees. I’ve seen too many workplaces where people are sceptical of the business’ motives, they don’t trust the people around them and they are not free to contribute their full abilities to the mission. This is a very terrible state for a business and you need to be aware of it.
  3. Speed – For me this is a no-brainer. You need speed and efficiency. Especially in a small start-up. You need employees who see the target and get the result and they do it quickly and efficiently. You need a team that can meet deadlines. I guess there is something to be said for people who are patient and can think deeply and take their time to do a good job. But at the end of the day, they need to do all that and still meet the deadline. I can empathise with this especially. I’m not a lightning go-getter, who thinks quickly and makes rapid fire decisions. But I work overtime and ensure I meet the deadline.

  4. Personal development – Finally, you want people who want to get better. You want people who have goals. These types of people are great to work with. These types of people push themselves, they push others and they take things to another level. These kinds of people can make a good team great. If you settle for average people, people who just want to do the job, you will stagnate, which means you end up going backwards. If you want success, you need to be the type who looks to constantly improve and get better and you need a team around you who will do the same.

Great advice from Patrick Bet-David – check him out at – Valuetainment – How to hire the best: “4 Key questions to look for” 24 March 2015.

Now we have a general picture of who we want and what to look for, here is a good guide to the skills and personality of truly effective employees:

Truly Effective Employees:

Information provided by Crowdspring – How to find and hire highly effective employees

Their overall advice is that you should hire only when a person is the right fit. They claim sometimes they look for someone but they don’t hire, and sometimes they hire more than they are looking for, because they don’t hire for a job, they hire for the ideal person. This is a new idea to me, but I like the concept.

Here is the list of Skills or Personality traits they look for in an ideal employee:

  1. Discipline – They say it’s important to find people who work well through ups and downs. You need to find people who have a good attitude and have an understanding of respect. This is fairly obvious and they give a good hint on how to gage the level of an employee’s discipline, attitude and respect. 1) Check their references and see what others say about them. 2) Ask them in the interview about a favourite project they worked on and a least favourite project they worked on. People with good discipline, attitude and respect will know how to talk about the work they don’t like and the people they didn’t like working with, with respect. Gage the level of discipline the potential employee will have for the job by how they talk about their past jobs.

  2. Welcome criticism – Ideally you want employees who seek criticism, employees who want to improve. This is obvious, but this detail can make all the difference. If you go to a shop and all the employees are striving to do better than they’ve done before and learn more and be better, then you know you will get a higher level of service. There is a whole different energy and atmosphere which will drive the business to become better and better. How do you find these people? The tip offered, is to ask about a time they messed up or was criticised? Ask, how did they react? What did the boss say? Then judge how they responded and how they talk about the whole ordeal. If it’s positive with a focus on how they improved and how they always look to improve, then it’s a pointer that you have found a self-critical employee.
  3. Embrace opportunities – of course you want employees who embrace opportunities, rather than employees who avoid work. To assess this trait, ask about areas they found gaps in their previous roles and how they fixed any problems to help the business improve. See if they have an awareness of what they are doing and looking for opportunities, or if they are simply checking the clock to get paid.

  4. Persistent – You want employees who are persistent. People who are results driven will work over time and put in special effort for important projects. You can’t build a quality business if you have employees that don’t get the job done.  Ask potential employees to speak about a time they had a difficult job and how they stayed motivated. Also, ask them how they have dealt with others who were not motivated. If they have the stories of difficult jobs that they’ve done and problems they’ve overcome to achieve the goal, then they may be a good employee to help achieve your goals.

  5. Decisive – Indecision is crippling. In business you can’t be the type who fears failure and you can’t have employees who are too scared to try things to get the job done. To be a dynamic and growing business, both you and your team need to be creative, innovative and risk trying new things in search of planned rewards. To judge this, ask about their last job, ask what risks did they take? And ask if it was self-driven or assigned. Judge how they talk about risk. You ideally want people who are averse to risk, but are driven to take calculated moves to achieve their goals.
  6. Listen first – You want to build a team of thoughtful people who communicate well and work together. The kind of people who can listen to you and understand your goals. They also need to listen to others and work harmoniously to achieve a common good. You want the kind of people who listen and then talk when they have something meaningful to add. Ironically, the way to judge this is to give them the opportunities to ask questions. You will know from their questions if they were listening and if they understood what was important. You are specifically looking for whether they took cues from what you’ve been saying. Look to see how they are asking questions. ‘Why’ questions show that they are responding to you. They show a desire to understand and more analytical approach. ‘What’ questions are less creative or thoughtful. Generally they show less engagement with purpose and emphasis on procedure.

  7. Know their limits – You want people who are able to recognise when they need help. No one is perfect and having a lot of cowboys trying to work things out on the fly is dangerous for your business and your brand. Equally damaging, is having a whole lot of scared pigeons hiding in their coops hoping the tricky job gets passed by them. You need people who know what they can do and know how to get assistance when needed. You also want people who work well with others; they know how to help others when they need it. And you want people who share credit and are good team workers. You should ask them about difficult projects they worked on where they needed help. How did it come about? How did they collaborate? See how they speak about their abilities and how they work with others.

Thanks to Crowdspring for these very helpful insights.

Now we know what we want on our team and we have some idea of how to evaluate potential employees, we need to consider the interview stage.

How to Conduct Interviews:

How to Conduct Interviews – 2 Sep 2014 – Stanford Graduate School of Business

The Stanford team start with the advice that the interview stage is one that no CEO should delegate. They go so far as to say it is the most important role and use the sporting analogy that the best athletes make the team a winner.

They take the analogy one step further, arguing that you, the interview, also need to think like an athlete. If you want to find winning players, you need to be a winning player at finding winning players. In short, do the training and prepare to interview well.

This is the problem, that most people are not usually trained in how to interview. As a result they are not prepared to make professional judgments and fall into the trap of following their own personal biases. Below are some biases to be aware of, so we can be aware of what we do wrong in interviews. 

The types of bias:

  1. Similar to me bias – We favour people who share our characteristics. So instead of finding the right person we relate to the person who is similar to us and we set them up to win in the interview.

  2. First impression error – This is where the first few instances colour the rest of the interview. So if we have a laugh in the first few seconds about something or we learn they follow the same football team, we allow that feeling to change how we proceed through the rest of the interview.

  3. Confirmation bias – This is when we look for things to confirm our biases. We ask different questions so we can get the answer we’re looking for; the answer that confirms what we already expected. For example, if we hold the bias assumption that maternity leave is a burden on businesses. (A view I don’t hold, but I can see that some employers might) Then we probably are more biased towards hiring men than women. So, if we feel maternity leave is an issue for our business, we will probably ask women a lot of questions about their situation and their attitudes towards pregnancy and maternity leave, to support a biased view about the potential costs to the business.

  4. Over confidence bias – It is quite common for entrepreneurs and managers to believe they must be good at hiring people. These types of people are used to taking risks and confidence is essential in the day-to-day of running a business. And so many managers and owners may feel they don’t need to prepare. Or they feel a quick look at a resume is enough. Or they feel their gut will show them the way. This is obviously not the best way to go about finding winning players for your organisation.

How to become better:


  1. Think carefully about job profile (picture the ideal candidate – background and personality)

  2. Select resumes that meet profile – the resume is gateway. Remember to be mindful of biases and try to avoid them.

  3. Devise personalized factors – devise a way to judge for intellectual ability, personality traits and motivation, as we covered in the previous section.

  4. Focus on the position – not your gut – Conduct a true interview. Have a map. Use topics and topic openers to break the ice and develop report so you can see their personality and thought pattern. Have a list of specific probing questions. Probe with questions that need analytical thinking. For example, ‘tell me of a time you overcame a problem that was not covered by policy?’ How would you deal with troublesome, poor performing colleagues? Be sure to have specific questions and know what you are looking for. And avoid the good old clichéd questions that get you nothing but prepared statements.

Final thoughts on hiring people:

Here ends my brief study on hiring people. As I’ve set out on the path to financial freedom and on a mission of success, I know soon I will need to draw on these lessons. I’d like to thank the above resources for providing their ideas free on the net for anyone to learn. I’ve learned a lot from them and I encourage you to head over and check them out yourself.

The Lesson

At the end of the day, a lot of factors play into hiring people. And as with everything the only true lesson will come from experience. I guess what I learned most was that you need to be prepared. Know who you want to work with and who will have the best impact on your business or mission. Then design the advertisement so you can find those type of people. After that, study them on paper. Prepare an interview with questions that will get you the knowledge you want to know. Be aware of your biases and focus on getting the right person to build your champion team.

As always, thanks for allowing me to share my thought here.

I wish you all the best with your own missions and hope you can develop winning teams to help you scale to financial freedom and a life on your terms.

Take care and remember to always keep striving for success.

If you found this article helpful, check out my study of the vital business skill of sales: How to be a Success by Mastering the art of Sales.

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