Oded Ran is CEO of the award winning technology startup, Touchnote. In 2015, the startup became one of the UK's top 10 fastest growing tech companies and, as the world's most popular post card app, has gone on to sell over 6 million post cards world wide. Previously, Oded was Head of Consumer Marketing for Windows Phone and Head of Mobile Services, growing Microsoft’s mobile business in the UK.
A common theme throughout Oded's success has been his ability to attract the best talent and develop great teams, so we met with Oded to learn about his approach to recruitment.
A business can only be as good as its team, so the most important decisions you ever make will be around recruitment. Even in a city like London where there is an enormous talent pool, it’s still easy to find yourself making poor decisions simply because you didn’t have the right process. Here are a few tips for hiring the right person every time:
You must approach your hiring process systematically and with data. There’s a book that I encourage every new employee to read – Thinking, Fast And Slow, written by Daniel Kahneman and based on his (and his colleague’s) Nobel-prize winning theories. I could have replaced big chunks of my MBA with this book. It teaches the reader about understanding their biases and to interpret information in a rational manner, which is essential if you are to hire the right people. Too often we allow ourselves to be driven by emotion or subtle prejudices, and the impact on our recruitment decisions can be profound. You have to be able to separate real data from anecdotes and opinions.
Too often we allow ourselves to be driven by emotion or subtle prejudices
If you are to take a data led approach then that requires a system. For every role and every candidate we hire, we try to assess four main things:
– Aptitude – can they do it?
– Attitude – do they want to do it?
– Experience – have they done it before?
– Fit – will they do it with us?
Each section includes a series of questions and results in a score. Each person scores separately, so we don’t influence one another. Again this allows us to easily and objectively compare candidates without being influenced by emotions or biases.
Nowadays one’s intelligence is too often demonstrated by one’s ability to Google and find the answer. Intellect, on the other hand, is how a person really thinks. Are they able to take challenging scenarios that they have never previously encountered and find creative solutions that get results? Are they able to come up with a clever UX solution to something they’ve never seen before? It’s important that the hiring process addresses this rather than just the person’s ability to gather information, as once they’re in the job you need to know they can tackle complex problems daily without someone holding their hand.
Of course they are far more important for some roles than others, but even a designer needs to have a solid grasp of numbers or how can they assess the impact of their work on engagement and conversion rates? It all comes back to data; every decision we take should be based on facts and figures rather than instinct.
It all comes back to data; every decision we take should be based on facts and figures rather than instinct
In our business we like all members of the team to be involved in everything, from reviewing our financials to discussing our new TV adverts. If someone just wants to work in a silo and nothing else then we’re probably not the right company for them.
It’s important that whatever the characteristics, values and culture of your business they are clearly communicated to candidates so that they can decide if it really is the place for them. Don’t fall into the trap of only telling them what they want to hear, no matter how talented they are.
Once a new hire comes on board, we try to give as much feedback as possible in the first six weeks. Life moves quickly in a start-up so if there are problems with a new hire you must address them directly and immediately. You will then very quickly discover if the problems can be overcome or if the person was just not the right candidate for the role.
Life moves quickly in a start-up so if there are problems with a new hire you must address them directly and immediately
Companies are always thinking about their next recruit, but by developing your systems and technology there is almost certainly far more that you can do with your existing headcount. We are a small but senior team and that makes us fast, agile and cohesive. It also forces us to prioritise, whereas large companies have a tendency to lose focus. Don’t just assume that you always need to grow your team in order to grow your brand or your bottom line. That’s not the world we live in any more.
Alastair Barlow is Co-Founder and Chief Dreamer of Flinder, the award winning accountancy firm bringing serious data analysis to the SME market. Alongside his work at Flinder, Alastair sits on the ACCA Practitioner’s Panel Network, was shortlisted for Business Person of the Year in the 2019 SME National Business Awards, and... Read more
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