The beginning of any hiring process is a 15 - 30 minute intro call to explore mutual fit.
If you reached out cold, this is first and foremost a sales meeting. The candidate may not be very familiar with you or your company, so your main goal is to convince them to go through an interview process with you. At the same time, you want to explore potential disqualifiers and figure out if they’re worth further interviews.
1. Start with some background on your company + the role
Begin with a short pitch on your background and the company:
Explain who you are and why you're hiring for the role. Focus on your mission and touch on why this role is crucial. Is it to fuel growth, strengthen operations, or bring an exciting new project to life? Clarity on the "why" helps candidates decide if it’s a good fit for them.
Pitch what’s exciting about the role or the company. Highlight the potential impact they can make and what makes your company an exciting place to work. For instance, they might have the chance work with cutting-edge technology, take on responsibility, or learn from a really high quality team. Some enthusiasm here won’t hurt!
2. Learn about the candidate
Now it's time to turn the spotlight onto the candidate and see if there’s a match between their skills and your startup's needs. Ideally, this is the point where you can ask targeted questions based on their background. However, if you don’t have their resume or enough info to do this, you can start with generic questions such as:
So, tell me about yourself?
Can you briefly describe your current job?
What skills or experiences do you have that make you a good fit for this role?
3. Confirm potential disqualifiers
Now it’s time to clear up anything that might act as a blocker in your work together. Here are some of the most common ones:
Location - Ask about their location and potential commuting arrangements. Where are you located? Are you OK commuting into the office X days a week?
Timeline - Frame the question to understand their career goals. Discuss not only their short-term plans but also potential growth within . How long do you envision yourself in this role What are your short-term career aspirations? What do you see yourself doing over the next 2-3 years?
Other commitments - Inquire about their outside commitments and availability. Do you freelance outside of work? Do you have any other personal or professional commitments that we should talk about?
4. Discuss the expected pay
In this age of remote work, salaries can vary widely. So, when it comes to figuring out the right range for a role, we’ve found that it’s best not to rely solely on salary databases. Instead, talk to candidates directly about their salary expectations. This way, you'll get 15 - 20 data points tailored to the exact kind of people you're trying to recruit.
Ask about a fair range: Start by asking the candidate what salary range they believe is fair for the role: e.g. “Based on what you’ve heard so far about the role, what range do you think is fair”? This depersonalizes the question and encourages more authentic answers than simply asking them to name a number.
They may deflect and ask what range you have in mind, to which you can reply with your range but leave yourself flexibility by saying something like , “We're considering something in the range of __ to ___ but are still gathering data and trying to make sure we’re paying competitively. Do you think this is fair?”.
Discusssalary vs. equity: In early-stage startups, some candidates might be willing to make very significant salary tradeoffs for equity and there’s no way to know unless you ask.
5. Leave room for their questions
As the intro call comes to an end, you can leave room for the candidate to ask some questions of their own. Here's a good way to nudge the process:
What questions do you have for me?
Based on what you’ve heard today, why might you NOT be interested in the role? What’s your biggest concern or fear?
6. Outline next steps or ask for referrals
Finally, you want to thank them for their time and let them know what to expect during the rest of the interview process. Alternatively, if they’re not interested or not a fit for a mutually agreed upon reason, make sure to ask for referrals. Many great hires come from here!
Hope that helps! Here’s a simple template you can use when running the calls.
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Even if you decide not to work with us, you’ll learn valuable tips that will save you time and help you find better candidates.