Precruiting: Simple steps to help source the right candidates for your startup

April 11, 2024

August 25, 2022

“Our position determines our future… Anyone looks like a genius when they’re in a good position, and even the smartest person looks like an idiot when they’re in a bad one. The greatest aid to judgment is starting from a good position.” Shane Parrish, Clear Thinking

Most founders have little to no experience in Human Resources or People before they become founders. But most early-stage startups can’t afford a Head of People, forcing founders to build out the People area from scratch. 

Founders always hear that hiring great people is one of your most important jobs, and building the right team is something that could make or break your startup. You want to hire a great team, but you don’t know how to build a process that will help you find, hire, and retain great people. 

Most startups recruit in an unorganized and reactive way. 

Founders often jump directly to hiring with no strategy behind it.

Build your team this way and you might as well be betting your team on a coin flip.

Hiring the wrong person can cost you not only in time and money, but also in morale and reputation. If you want to hire the right candidate more often, you need to do the 'Precruiting', the prep work before you're ready to start attracting and talking to candidates.

Precruiting helps you decide what you really need to hire for, gives you a strategy for how to find candidates, and helps you attract top candidates. 

Make your hiring process proactive and organized with precruiting  

Precruiting is the first step in building out your hiring strategy.

Precruiting starts with clearly outlining what you need from the role, why you need it, and how you’re going to attract the right types of candidates for the role. 

There are four steps to the precruiting process. We've broken each of them down into a detailed guide: 

Following these guides will get your recruiting off on the right foot, creating a better process for yourself and a better experience for the candidates you talk with. 

Precruit first, then interview, work with candidates, and reference them

From asking yourself the right questions to know what you need to hire for, to nailing the job description, precruiting is your first step towards building the team you need. Each step leads into the next. 

A good hiring process is organized in four blocks. 

Take this as your step-by-step map to go from opening a job position to extending an offer.

Nailing each block has a compounding effect. Here's why:

  • Precruiting well allows you to know exactly what you need to ask during interviews, and helps you talk to the right candidates for the job
  • Interviewing well helps you efficiently trim the candidate pool to 2-3 candidates that you want to work with
  • Working with candidates helps you build conviction and know the best questions to ask during references
  • Referencing candidates well allows you to get answers to any remaining questions you might have about the candidate 

Executing on each of these steps is how you'll find the right person for the role. As you complete each one, the entire “recruitment picture” will get clearer, and you'll be able to hire with more conviction.

You’ll never hire with a 100% success rate, but if you follow these steps, iterate, and learn from every hiring process, you’ll be in the 99th percentile for early-stage startups. 

Start hiring the team you need from day one

Finding and convincing great people to work at your startup can make the difference between success and failure. Your goal as a founder is to hire outcome multipliers, the people who truly move the needle and help your business be much more likely to succeed. You'll find them in two types of people: 

Hiring these two types of people will help you execute, recruit, uplevel the rest of your team, and fundraise. 

You need to be intentional to hire a great team. Precruiting before you make your next hire will save you multiple hours of work, and get you one step closer to building a better team.

Ready to start hiring? Use our guides:

The 14 questions to answer before recruiting startup executives

How to write great a job description that makes top talent want to work with you

Building a recruitment roadmap to find the right candidate for your startup

How to build a “Work With Us” career page to attract top talent