As it’s probably the case with most startups, the biggest brake in our growth is the difficulty in finding the right talent. It’s hard to find smart, motivated and ambitious people who are a good fit at the right time.

In this post I am trying to reflect on what we have done so far, why we have failed and what we could do in the future. If you are reading this and are interested in working with us, I hope it gives you insights into how we think and what is a good way of connecting with us. Originally these ideas were shared between our teams while going through different interview process — sharing our learnings and failures.

It’ s a work in progress. With every interview and new person we meet we are learning and adding new thoughts to this reflection.

At itnig we have an internal HR team focussed on growing the different startup teams. With the exception of Camaloon who counts with their own HR team, I am thus in contact with each startup to understand their current and future needs. In this way, we have the advantage of being able to join efforts between startups and to find a the right fit for a candidate — it’s like a puzzle but with multiple places that connect to each piece. As the teams are working mostly on technological solutions we are looking for talented developers, product owners and designers as well as sales and marketing passionates.

Being one of the biggest stoppers in our growth means that we give the process of recruitment a high importance — a lot of what we do evolves around it and we have thought long and thoroughly about how to design a process of finding and connecting with the person in question which we try to transmit through all teams in our organization. Just as in the beginning of our startup journey the first new team members were old friends, colleagues and friends of friends, now as we scale up we have to find new ways of connecting with promising new developers, marketers, sales professionals.

When we call or invite a candidate for an interview we are most interested in finding out about the person and not so much in talking about us. Our first goal is setting the stage for an interesting conversation, giving all our attention to the person and bringing her or him to talk. Setting the right tone for an interesting conversation begins even before you lock eyes or shake hands — it’s in the preparation. To us it’s important to inform the candidate beforehand whom she or he will be meeting, what to expect of the conversation and how to continue in getting to know each other. It’s a long process of mutual discovery which can take months — a lot of times we won’t match the first time but keep in touch with talented people for the future.

What does it mean to interview at itnig?

These are a few ground rules we set ourselves:

  • We aim to give a brief introduction to situate the person: Who are you? Why are we here? — We try to find things in common just with the goal to establish a good ground for conversation
  • We are curious to learn about the candidate so we’ll try to let you speak
  • We ask open questions, it’s probably also what we encounter in our day to day lives
  • We try to remember that even though we can talk all we want about values, what really transmits them is our behavior (humility, curiosity, sense of humor, respect while treating other people, full attention to the candidate instead of computers or phones…)
  • As general traits for next team members we look for intelligence, flexibility, drive, ambition and a hands-on resolutive person — with the idea that this person can replace us and take over any part in our companies

Before the interview process

Before we reach out to potential candidates we want to be sure we are all on the same boat and aligned in what we are looking for in a person. We try to stick to these ideas in all the recruitment processes we do.

  • We want to establish a clear idea of technical / professional skills
  • We try to define what personality traits are important to succeed in this position (curiosity, team player, communication, organized..)
  • We agree on the frame of the process in terms of timings, people involved, steps of interviews and if we want to involve extras like written or technical tests, simulations (like role-plays), team get-togethers, cross-references, past work to check…
  • We aim to set our expectations for the future of this role, how the team will evolve, what we imagine to change in the next few months before reaching out to candidates
  • We strive to work out the big picture and convey what we think is the most interesting and appealing in this specific position

Only if we as an already existing team are clear and aligned on what we are looking for while talking to new people can we present a coherent picture and come to a conclusion.

Who we are as a company — What is in it for the candidate?

Other than talking about our individual company history, current daily work for this position and the vision and outlook for the future we think it’s also interesting to give a general overview of itnig and what this means for the development of the individual and the organization as a whole.

At itnig this means:

  • Technological base
  • Innovative products in their respective industries
  • Hard working, effort, do-it attitude & focus on execution
  • Ecosystem with shared open office space & events
  • Sharing of knowledge between different startups

We see itnig as a space open to learn and to grow, an honest and transparent environment with its feet on the ground, where we value effort, learn from our mistakes by trying and are focussed on the execution.

What is important to know?

In general, when I get together with a candidate for any of the positions, I am curious to learn about past experiences and educational background, to understand his/her current situation, expectations for the future, other interests and motivation for our particular startup.

  1. Reason for leaving current job. A straight question will probably get a superficial answer, so I try to look for details. Is the company / position in danger? Did the person disagree with team or company strategy? Is he/she doing a good job?
  2. Plans for future. I try to find out what the person is looking for in his/her future. What does he/she want to learn? How does the person imagine to work? What can we offer to the personal growth of the person?
  3. Personal life and extracurricular activities. A lot of the times what a person does in his/her ‘spare time’ says much more about him/her than the actual job. What are the causes they care about? Any hobbies? Sports? I try to find out what makes them tick, what moves them and where they see their most value.
  4. Motivation or interest in working with us. I ask the person why she/he is here. What are their expectations? What do they know about us? What is most exciting for them in our job offer or company? Ask how they chose which company to apply to, what they are looking for and whom we are competing against. I think it’s important to leave a lot of space for questions from the candidate.

How can we find out about personality?

After the technical and professional capacities of the person in question are clear to me, I am curious to find out more about him or her in terms of personality, values, hobbies and ambitions for the future. As this is a tricky part, we’ve tried to come up with some questions. These are also questions I ask myself and often stumble with the answer 😉

  • What are the qualities you appreciate most in your co-workers?
  • What traits make a person likeable?
  • What’s the most interesting you have learned this year?
  • What changes have you made in working with others to be more effective at work?
  • What extracurricular activities did you do in college?
  • Side projects?
  • Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
  • Have you ever misjudged someone?
  • What are you especially good at compared to others?
  • What’s the one accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?
  • What do you think is the most important aspect or ability of your craft?
  • What do you want to learn in this year?
  • How do you inform yourself of changes in your industry?
  • What publications do you read?
  • What are you looking for in a company?
  • In what kind of work environment do you prefer to work?

I want to enjoy the conversation, make a friend, be curious!

In the end, there are no right or wrong answers but it’s a way of discovering more about the other person. What are their values? What is important to them and where do they compromise? Other than the professional talent, it’s also important for me to see somebody we are looking forward to meeting every day and spending the day together, solving problems and sometimes getting stuck on hard ones together.

What motivates us?

This reflection is not only important to do with the candidate, but also with ourselves. I as person on the other side of the table am conveying the same messages and am being just as scrutinised as the candidates.

I would say that as an organization as a whole this is what makes us come to the office every morning:

  • Being part of a successful business and seeing its growth
  • Challenging ourselves and exploring something new
  • Advancing alongside just as talented people whom we admire
  • Seeing our impact and knowing the mission of the organization
  • Tackling a difficult problem

For you as a candidate I imagine that this might be a very important part in the interview process: To be able to see the team you hopefully look forward to working with. It’s probably one of the biggest motivation being surrounded by smart people and doing things together.

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E.

Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs & Tech Lovers

Podcasts are a great way to discover new subjects and new people. Whether you are a tech lover or an entrepreneur, bellow you will discover podcasts for entrepreneurs you should – without a doubt – listen to. 

Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre
Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre

« Masters of Scale » 

with Reid Hoffman

The host: Reid Hoffman decides to turn to the corporate world instead of pursuing a university carrier. He worked for Apple, Fujitsu for then starting his own business: SocialNet and left it in 2000 to join Confinity. Confinity gives life to Paypal after fusionning. Finally, in 2003, Hoffman co-founds LinkedIn. He is Master of Scale’s host. 

About: The podcast welcomes some of the greatest entrepreneurs. You will discover throughout the talk how they managed to take their companies from 0 to a lot of zeros. You can listen to Masters of Scale’s special guests like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Selina Tobaccowalla (Evite), Brian Chesky (Airbnb) or Nancy Lublin (Crisis Text Line). Must-hear: one of the top tech podcasts for entrepreneurs.

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Youtube

The Team: Reid Hoffman, June Cohen, Deron Triff and Jai Punjabi

« Rocket » 

with Christina Warren, Simone de Rochefort and Brianna Wu

The hosts: Christina Warren started as a Freelance Writer. Then, she worked at Mashable as a Senior Tech Analyst and Tech Correspondent and ended the journey at Microsoft as a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate. About Simone de Rochefort, she is  Senior Video Producer and co-host of The Polygon Show. Brianna Wu founded her first startup at the age of 19, Giant Spacekat. She was Head of Development at the time. She is now running for US Congress. 

About: In this podcast, you will discover three passionate women and their “geek conversation” as they like to call it.  No guest speakers, but you will be able to listen to a panel of tech subjects from Apple to Comics, you will not be disappointed. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« This week in Startups »

with Jason Calacanis

The host: Jason Calacanis starts as an internet industry journalist in New-York. In 2003, he co-founded Weblogs, Inc and then a few years later he joined Sequoia Capital, launched the web directory Mahalo. He also founded ThisWeekIn.com. Furthermore, he created This Week in Startups podcast and a startup named Inside.com. Finally, he was part of the creation of the Sydney Launch Festival. 

About: Either you are looking to start your own company, or you are a successful entrepreneur, or you just love technology, this podcast will give you a peek to the entrepreneurship world. You will hear stories of all kinds! On his website, you will also find his events and some research on transportation, healthcare and more. This is one is part of the tech podcasts for entrepreneurs not to be missed.

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Youtube, SoundCloud and RSS Feed

You can also subscribe to their newsletter in order to receive episodes directly. 

The Team: Jason Calacanis, Jacqui Deegan, and Tony Agapiou

« Recode / Decode » 

with Kara Swisher

The host: Kara Swisher is an American journalist specialized in the technology industry. She first started to work for an alternative newspaper in Washington for then working for the Washington Post. She wrote articles for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and wrote her own books. Finally, in 2014, she created Recode, a website dedicated to the latest technology news. In 2015, she initiates Recode Decode. 

About: The weekly podcast welcomes tech experts and great entrepreneurs. They review how they got there, what’s on their mind about the current industry and what they would improve or create. Her recent guests were Elon Musk (Tesla CEO), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn

« K Fund PodKast »

with Jaime Novoa

The host: Jaime Novoa’s background is quite diverse. He is a writer and an investor, but he also worked in data analysis and social media analysis. In 2014, he founded Novobrief, a newsletter for startups. Then, in 2016, he becomes an investor at K Fund and he founds, in 2019, Dealflow, a weekly tech newsletter. 

About: The podcast discusses startups, entrepreneurs and Venture Capital. You will discover enterprises and their story. From data science, unicorns or digital platforms, you sure will find more than one interesting podcast. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website and Soundcloud

« Clockwise »

with Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent

The hosts: Dan Moren is an active author and writer as well as podcaster. He was a Senior Editor at Macworld. Today, he hosts two podcast shows: Clockwise and The Rebound. As for Mikah Sargent, he started as a Website Designer and Developer for then switching as a Senior Editor at Newsy. He now hosts few podcasts such as Clockwise on Replay FM or on TWiT.tv. 

About: The weekly podcast discusses technology and welcomes each time 2 special guests. For 30 minutes, they address 4 topics where all four speakers get to elaborate on the matter, highlight the issues and expose their thoughts. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« Itnig Podcast»

with Bernat Farrero

The host: Bernat Farrero starts his career as a Developer. In 2009, he founded Itnig, a startup ecosystem that organizes entrepreneurship events. They also have a coworking for startups, a podcast and a fund for early-stage projects. Furthermore, he is a Founder of Factorial, Quipu and Camaloon. He is also a Board Member of Playfullbet, GymForLess and Parkimeter. Finally, he hosts Itnig’s weekly Podcast. 

About: The podcast welcomes every week a new guest. If you wish to learn from successful entrepreneurs, you are on the right platform. The discussions turn around Technology and its industry. You will come across guests like Carlos Pierre (Badi), Vincent Rosso (BlaBlaCar) or Oscar Pierre (Glovo).

Listen to the podcast: Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Ivoox, and Google Podcasts

You can subscribe to their newsletter if you want to receive the podcast’s link every Monday. 

Whether you are at an early stage of your project, an investor or you are just curious, these podcasts for entrepreneurs give you the opportunity to be updated on tech and business news. Also, you get to learn from successful international entrepreneurs, which can definitely be very useful for your business.