How to Get Hired at a Hot Startup

I think about the hiring process a lot. I’m constantly exploring ways to make hiring more efficient and effective, both for employers and candidates. My exploration has led to many conversations with executives from a variety of industries, and what I’ve learned from these discussions can be really helpful to you, the job candidate — it’s almost like “inside information” that you can use to win the job you want.

In my quest to better understand what employers are looking for in new hires and the kinds of hiring methods they’re using, I sat down with Jules Pieri, CEO of The Grommet.The Grommet is a platform designed to launch undiscovered products and help them succeed. Since 2008, it has introduced popular and well-known brands like Fitbit, SimpliSafe and SodaStream, among many others.

During our conversation, Pieri discussed the kind of talent this innovative company is looking for and how its leaders find it.

Before I dive too deep into the hiring process at The Grommet, I’m curious: Why is hiring the right talent so important to you?

In today’s day and age, a product or a business model can be easily copied, but I’ve found that the one thing that truly can’t be duplicated is how you do business. The kinds of people that you bring into your organization can really make or break your culture and your brand. It’s not just about building a business, it’s about building a company. In every new hire we make, we hope that he or she contributes not just to our bottom line, but to our culture.

[See: Best Business Jobs.]

What are some of the key qualities that you look for in these new hires?

At a company like The Grommet, you’re never doing just one job. As a high-growth company that is combining marketing chops with the ability to get new products distributed both directly to consumers and at wholesale, our employees are wearing a lot of hats. Our teams are always taking on new activities, and we look for candidates who are seeking that kind of work environment. We need our employees to be agile, ambitious self-starters. We encourage our employees to think outside of the box and not to be afraid to come to us with creative and bold ideas.

[See: 10 Tech Jobs That Make the Most Money.]

What are some the tactics your company uses to determine which job candidates possess the qualities and skills you are looking for? What are you doing to make your hiring process more effective?

Like most organizations, we start with reviewing resumes and conducting interviews, but we’ve found that these are limiting in scope. They’re just not enough on their own. That’s because very often the kinds of traits we are looking for don’t come across on a resume. It’s difficult to determine whether a candidate has a can-do attitude from a list of past work experience alone. Interviewing also doesn’t give us the full breadth of a candidate’s ambitions and attitude. I’ve actually found the interview to be particularly biased toward extroverts, which can lead to missing out on great candidates who might be more naturally introverted.

I find that checking references helps level the playing field and can be an equalizer in the hiring process. I also believe that soft skills are extremely important; I want to know that our hires are self-starters and comfortable taking a new task and running with it. These are qualities I can really only confirm through the reference feedback from past co-workers and managers.

[See: 25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree.]

For those who are currently looking to work at a company like The Grommet, or maybe even at The Grommet, what advice would you give them?

It’s not just important that a company thinks you’re a fit — you need to feel that you’re a fit for the organization. Interviews are not a one-sided conversation and you should use them as an opportunity to really get to know a company. I would also say that you should be candid about your strengths and weaknesses because a potential employer may very well find these out through good interviewing tactics or from your references anyway. An open and honest dialogue is the best way to determine not only if you’re right for a company, but if a company is right for you.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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How to Get Hired at a Hot Startup originally appeared on usnews.com