This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!
When I make hiring decisions, it usually comes down to a gut feeling. But many people I’ve talked to have a litmus test that they stand by.
Assuming the hire is of legal drinking age, we’ve seen many growing startups put prospective hires to the “beer test” or, for our purposes, the “cocktail test” (because we are Tech Cocktail, and I can do that). Basically, you ask yourself: is this someone I would want to go out and have a cocktail with (maybe a martini, Bloody Mary, mojito, virgin cocktail, or healthy green smoothie), or will they drive me nuts? If you don’t want to spend free time with them – not even the amount of time it takes to consume a cocktail – then they’re not the right fit for you or your organization.
Note – you don’t actually have to do it. It can just be a question you ask yourself. While this isn’t the be-all-end-all test, it’s a great indication of team chemistry.
Once you do decide to hire someone, you may still have to sell them on working with you. And one of the biggest obstacles you’ll face is the emotion of fear: potential hires are concerned that your startup might not survive and they’ll be out of a job. You may hear them say, “I have a family to provide for and cannot risk losing my job,” or “I have bills to pay, a mortgage, a car payment, and student loans, so I cannot put my financial future at risk for this company.” These are understandable concerns, but let’s take a closer look.
Rather than debating how risky your startup is, BrightTag CTO Eric Lunt recommends talking about a different kind of risk: the risk of staying in a comfortable job. Even if the candidate in front of you feels secure, they could lose their job at any point – or, more pointedly, be stuck in a job without passion. That is the real risk to be afraid of: not taking a chance and going after your dreams.
So trust your gut, appeal to their gut, and you might just have a new employee.