Don’t hire based on past experience

Edited excerpt from Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years by Dharmesh Shah:

When building the early team, don’t get hung-up on how people look on “paper”, i.e. how experienced someone is. Brian (my co-founder) calls these kind of hires the “Press Release Hire”. Litmus test: Imagine you hired this person. Would you issue a press release to let the world know that you brought this awesome person on board? If so, you’re probably more focused on what they’ve done instead of what they will do for you.

Don’t get me wrong, if you can get someone that’s a great fit and they’ve accomplished something in the past, and you think that’ll translate to doing great things at your company, go for it. But remember, past successes at really big companies don’t guarantee future success at your company. The context is very different.

Also, don’t ignore talented future stars because they lack experience and nobody has heard of them. At HubSpot, in those early years, we were all relatively unqualified for the roles we were in. Some might argue I’m still unqualified for the role I’m in. But we were hungry, willing to learn and most importantly — we cared.

(1) “Hungry” — see 5 testable qualities that determine a candidate’s potential.
(2) “Willing to learn” — see How to test job candidates for “learning agility” and The 3 things Google looks for when hiring.
(3) “Most importantly — we cared”. How would you test for that?

3 thoughts on “Don’t hire based on past experience

  1. Pingback: Don’t hire for experience | Musings of a Turkey

  2. Pingback: How to avoid unconscious bias when hiring | A Founder's Notebook

  3. Pingback: Four qualities to look for when interviewing a product manager | A Founder's Notebook

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