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Look for People Who'd Work for Free

Posted on:January 3, 2024

Team building and hiring can be quite challenging. One crucial factor I’ve come to appreciate is seeking out individuals who are already engaged in the work you’ll be paying them for, even if they’re doing it for free. In a previous position, we were hiring software engineers for an early-stage startup and developed a comprehensive interview process that assessed various aspects such as programming skills, familiarity with our preferred stack, general aptitude, communication style, and cultural fit.

We interviewed numerous excellent candidates, but one in particular stands out as someone we may have overlooked. He was employed as a software engineer and was working on a side project closely aligned with our vision. We passed on him, believing that other candidates ticked more boxes. However, I now think that was a mistake.

Individuals who have already demonstrated dedication to your field possess valuable domain knowledge and genuine curiosity. These intangible qualities can’t always be taught, and they often lead to greater empathy for users and customers. Such professionals tend to be self-motivated, self-directed, and exhibit high levels of care and autonomy.

Because of these traits, they’re less likely to become frustrated or distracted, contributing to a positive team atmosphere. They’ll likely find satisfaction in their work and may be more willing to weather the ups and downs of challenging projects, potentially resulting in longer tenures at your company.

While the other factors still matter, I believe this specific quality should carry more weight in hiring decisions than some of the others – at least from my perspective.