Hiring for Cultural Fit

This is the one thing that every Founder I talked to stressed the most:

Getting the right talent in. Being critical at the front door. Only hiring A-players. Focus on ease and personal curiosity to find the right people – your gut knows who is right. A startup develops in multiple phases and hiring might look differently for each:


  1. The early phase from 1-10 employees: You as the founder do the hiring and onboarding yourself. Have very tight feedback loops in your team to make sure they build commitment for the new team.
    In this stage, you are hiring the people who lead your teams when you grow. Select for future leadership capabilities, passion, and healthy friction.
  2. Later, you scale from 11-30 people, and you start to introduce team leads. Here you probably hand over tech/product development and marketing/sales to a dedicated team lead. Hire for these 2 roles already in phase 1.
  3. When your company is growing above 30 people, you introduce multiple layers and you start leading team leads only. This is a big change as you shift your leadership style significantly towards communication. Focus on 100% trust with your team leads. 


Prepare early on the talent development for the later phases and get new team leads the support they need (internally or externally) so they can grow into their leadership position. As a Founder, you should spend 30% of your time on finding the right people.


Checklist: Best practices for recruiting and developing talent

A) Check for cultural fit

Use your own curiosity. Do you want to learn more about this person? Do you want to learn about their personal lives? What are they busy with and what trends are they curious about? Do they already have ideas of their own?

Also, check how they like to get feedback, how they are in conflict, and what they are expecting from you as a leader.

Use this approach: 

  1. Use the founder’s story, and mission with excitement to get and connect with people to get people applying for roles
  2. Do not use recruitment agencies. Often team members are also gone again if they come through external recruiters – and you can spend the money on the talent you bring on board
  3. Be clear on what you can offer. Honesty and openness right from the start. 
  4. Bring them into social settings/lunch with the team before the interview so the team can also take a look and give feedback. 
  5. Make fast choices, do not play games. If you like them, make an offer. 


“The biggest challenge as a founder is just finding the right talent and hiring the right talent.” Anna C Mallon, Serial Reinventor & Investor


B) What to look for during the hiring process:

  • Hire for passion, not just expertise.
  • Check how coachable they are (open to feedback, to learn and train every day) 
  • Drivers vs. Passenger mentality: Drivers want to see output – clear metrics. Hiring should prioritize these traits early on.
  • If you realize early in the interview that it is not a match, then just cut the interview short. Protect your time at all costs.


When you find the perfect match it all fits. Never settle for anything less than this, even if it takes a year to hire the right people (I know, crazy right?). With the right candidate, things are simple. Focus on simplicity, passion, and an eye for detail.

Miguel Baumann coaching blog
Hi, I am Miguel

I support leaders in tech to shine with confidence and take charge of their careers.

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