Arguably the most important activity for an entrepreneur is recruiting. A great idea is a good start for any successful startup but great companies are built by great people so being able to round up a kick-ass team is usually even more important.

When we at Creandum evaluate startups, the team is often the most important criteria. Although we don’t necessarily require a full management team, it is still a great sign if the founders have been able to attract great talent or expertise as employees, board members, or advisors. First of all, it shows that you are able to make people enthusiastic enough to spend their most valuable asset, their time, to help you out. Secondly, it hopefully shows that you are smart enough to complement your strengths and weaknesses.

So bearing this in mind, it could be interesting to think a bit about how recruiting is performed. I am currently reading a very interesting book called Sway by Ori and Rom Brafman. In one section, Professor Allen Huffcutt, who has made extensive research on recruiting, argues that the usual job interview recruiting process is pretty useless. His research shows that there is a very low correlation between normal job interviews and actual job performance. He’s especially skeptical to interviews involving questions addressing how the candidate would like to be or think he/she should be to get the job. Basically questions where the candidates are asked to evaluate themselves, indicate their future plans/ambitions, or general reconstructions of past events.

Instead, Mr Huffcutt recommends focusing on job-related hypotethical scenarios and specific past experiences based on data and verifiable accounts. Or even more drastically, skip the interview and go for aptitude tests instead.

My take is that interviews still can be very valuable but I am certain that most companies could improve their recruitment success rate substantially by thinking through what one hopes to achieve with the interview and complement it accordingly with more job-like scenarios. As an example, many software companies use programming tests for the applicants making sure they actually know how to code.

And make sure that recruiting is treated as a core competence within your company. Because it needs to be.