What makes an awesome startup employee? The 8 attributes you need to work in a startup

You hear people talking about what makes a great startup founder all the time: A great sense of vision, clarity of purpose, relentless drive, a strange balance of over-confidence and insecurity.

There are whole books written about it.

But what makes a great startup team-member? The people who join and thrive in early start startup teams are an equally special breed. In fact, the best startup employees aren’t necessarily the best fit for working in more established businesses – some of the most brilliant startup people I’ve worked with find the traditional business work impossibly frustrating.

“It’s so SLOOOW!”

“I’m just doing the same thing every day – I want to be more in touch with the other stuff going on in the business!”

There are a whole range of attributes that are uniquely suited to these small, high-growth, high pressure companies, but it can be hard for founders who are hiring teams (and people hunting for jobs) to know what those are. So we’ve smooshed together our recruiting AND startup running experience and made a list of the top 8 attributes we’ve found to be the most valuable:


Passion, enthusiasm, motivation for what you’re doing – Must buy into your vision and your big “Why” – what it is you’re trying to do or create in the world. They’ve gotta care about the problem you’re trying to solve, otherwise it’ll be hard to stay motivated.

 Curiosity – They’ve got to love the process of finding better ways to do things – especially when it comes to challenging assumptions about the only way to build products. Being curious about why you’re doing this, who it’s for and how they’re going to use it is vital across all roles in a startup too.

 Pace – They’ve got to be great at making decisions and acting on them quickly. The old adage of succeed quickly or fail fast is the day to day life of a start up. You need people who thrive and are excited by this.

 Fearless/Audacity – try the impossible, challenge more than just the status quo, be prepared to push the boundaries, limits of what we believe

 Grit – /resilience – your resilience will be consistently tested and challenged in a startup. That thing you just spent a month working on? It’s not working, we need to abandon it and try something else. The reality is that it will not be a smooth ride. People who have made it through a few tough life experiences, who have demonstrated Grit, are more likely to survive.

 Hunger and willingness to sacrifice – Founding a startup requires sacrifice. So does working in one. You’re going to get chucked in the deep end often. You’re going to be asked to work longer hours, more often. It’s a high pressure job so you’ve got to be hungry and prepared to make sacrifices.

 Sense Of Humour – You’ve got to be able to laugh and realise that tomorrow is another day. The sun will set, the sun will rise. Late nights, too much pizza and endless bug squashing is only bearable if it’s also fun. You want to be able to laugh with the people you sit next to.

Flexibility – The only constant is change. Get ready to develop skills you don’t have. Although you may be employed for a specific role, the nature of start up means that everyone leans in the direction that the business needs to be focused on at that time. If its sales this month – then get ready to help out in that area. Anyone who defaults to “that’s not in my job description” isn’t suited to a startup life.

We reckon filtering for these attributes right at the beginning of your hiring process is smart. If you agree and want to give it a go yourself, try Weirdly. It’s free and only takes 30secs to set up. 

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Talent Pooling before Christmas: Build a database now, and hit the ground running in the new year

Greg Savage spoke at very official, businessey event yesterday. He turned a room of pinstripe suits and pale blue ties into revolutionaries. They were left buzzing about radical shifts in the way we think about bringing people into our businesses and teams.

Rather than hunting down candidates with skills to perform a specific role, we should be attracting people who share your mission. There are two key points we took away from his session:

  1. Most awesome people aren’t looking for jobs all the time. That means you need to be focussed on building relationships with passive candidates – building communities of great people who one day might become your team members.
  2. Those communities should be filled with people who align with your culture and mission, not those with the skills your organisation needs.

Greg talked about it as shift in focus. We should stop fighting for candidate attention and start seeking to understand their intention.

It’s an interesting twist and totally in line with how we’re seeing the people-market move.

The future is going to be about candidates choosing which businesses they want to work for, not the other way around. And we’re not talking about a future far away: this is happening right now. People are demanding a different relationship with companies and that means we need to look at a different way of attracting and engaging our potential workforce.


Talent pooling: collecting people who share your vision and mission?

Talent pooling isn’t new, or particularly revolutionary, but it’s a really brilliant way to create a database of people who are the right fit.

Start by creating an easy way for people to tell you they’re interested in working with you. This could be a Facebook page, but there are other, more sophisticated ways too (if we do say so ourselves). Build a talent pool with a Weirdly quiz, and your database of awesome candidates will also be automatically filtered by how aligned they are with your big mission. They’ll be ranked by how well they share and reflect your company culture.

This is especially smart to do at this time of year. It means that when the new year rolls around, you’ve got a database of brilliant candidates all ready to go.

This is the first step to building a talent community. Not all of those people will be looking for jobs now. Not all of them will be people you have roles for now. But now you know there’s a bunch of people who love what you’re doing, who fit your company culture, will help push you toward your mission and are dead-keen to jump on board when you ARE ready to hire.

Even better, they know you’re a company who cares about things like culture fit, and pulling people together to work toward a common goal.


What questions should you ask when building a talent pool?

Other than questions designed to uncover a culture fit and shared values, you need to get a gauge of how keen and available these people are.

These don’t have to be complicated. Better to play it simple with questions like:

Are you interested in being in our talent pool? – make sure you explain what this means (eg. we’ll contact you regularly to update you on jobs)

What type of role are you interested in?

What salary are you looking for?

What is it about our company that interests you?

What is your notice period?

What is the most unique thing we should know about you?


It’s a more enjoyable, streamlined process for you AND the people you want to hire.

When you have a talent pool, you’ll be starting the year with some warm leads for new candidates. You know some vital information about them – what kinds of role people are looking for, what their notice period is, why they’re a good fit with you AND they are happy for you to contact them.

The candidate will already feel engaged with you and your brand, so will feel great about hearing from you. Isn’t that much better than a cold-call from a headhunter? The future of employment sure thinks so.


If you want to give talent pooling a go and give yourself a headstart in the new year, sign up for a free Weirdly account today.

 Weirdly quiz sign up now

How to improve retention: Keeping employees around for the long haul isn’t (always) about cake.

You spend a lot of time finding, interviewing, and training your employees. So it’s not ideal if they up and leave 6 months after starting the job. You have to go through the whole tedious process again from the beginning, and there’s no guarantee you’ll find someone as good. For a tech startup, that can be the death-keel. We’re all growing too fast with targets that are too high-pressure as it is, without losing precious months to finding and re-training newbies on our systems every five minutes.

So it makes sense to put a bit of effort in to keeping your team-members happy and engaged, so they stay around. If people feel that the company cares about them, they’re more likely to care in return.

With that in mind, here are our tips for improving retention. Or more accurately, looking after your people (so they look after you):


Get the right person in the first place

OK, so this is about hiring rather than retention – but it’s one of the most important things you can do to keep people happy. If you hire based on cultural fit, new employees are more likely to slot into your company culture without an awkward transition. They’re also more likely to feel comfortable and happy in their jobs (and therefore less likely to look for opportunities to leave).

Don’t push too hard

Of course you want your employees to work hard, but having unrealistic expectations about hours and deadlines can be disastrous. People are generally happy to work hard and even put in extra time when there’s a big project on, but the fact is, it’s unsustainable to expect people to put in long hours every single day. Also, being selective about who you push and who you care about doesn’t work here. If your engineers see you employing a “burn and replace” attitude to your sales people, while treating your product team like golden gods, it’s not going to win you loyalty. Eventually they’ll realise this is the 4th “Gary from sales” they’ve met this quarter, decide you’re being a bit of a dick and start responding to those recruiters who are always hanging around the git hub forums.

Be generous with high fives and rewards

When you do expect people to stay late or work through the weekend, a little recognition goes a long way. Even something as small as a positive comment or pat on the back can make people feel appreciated – rather than hard done by. Find ways to reward employee contributions – awards and bonuses are the obvious ones, but smaller things like vouchers or celebratory cakes are good too. And remember, if your team’s just pulled an all-weekender getting a new feature shipped and you start getting awesome customer feedback rolling in, share it with everyone.

Show you care (but actually)

You don’t have to hug everyone or bake personalised birthday cakes. You just need to truly care about your employees. Show this by being a bit flexible and sympathetic if they have a personal crisis, giving them the odd perk just because, and listening to and then helping them achieve their goals at work. And actually, birthday cakes do help.

Don’t be afraid to challenge 

Being happy at work doesn’t necessarily mean being comfortable all the time. People want to improve themselves, so push them to work on challenging projects, encourage and reward professional development and training, and help them set ambitious professional goals.

Help them with the boring stuff

Everyone has parts of the job they hate. Boring, repetitive admin tasks tend to be top of the list, along with the usefully vague “things I have to do heaps but are always hard and confusing” (read: bug fixes). Automating as many of these tasks as possible helps people enjoy the job more – and cuts out a lot of human error. Depending on your business, a CRM platform could be a good way to eliminate some of these tasks and improve your employee engagement stats. Having a policy of flagging challenges early and an openness to asking for help (in every level or department) embedded in your culture is useful here. Just knowing that your boss is totally open to pulling in someone on a short-term basis to help puzzle out an impossible challenge is often enough to give you the confidence to work it out yourself.

Do social media:workplace edition

An online platform can also be an easy way for employees to engage with each other, bond the team together and encourage collaboration. Slack is obviously good for this, but if you’re prepared to commit startup treason you could use one of the hundred other options. Whatever you do, choosing something your teams actually find useful is key. A tool that helps streamline processes, share important data (eg. sales), and provides a bit of social stuff can make a huge difference to people’s sense of investment in the company and each other. It’s also good for in-jokes.


In the end, it comes back to caring – and showing it. If you don’t give a toss about your employees, it shows, and people won’t wait around til you do. Investing time and money in your employees’ happiness is the right thing to do – and the best part is, you’ll improve retention with loyal employees who feel so invested in your business they’re impossible to poach.

Want to find people who fit your business? Generate a free Weirdly quiz in just 30 seconds, and you’re halfway there.

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Seven questions to ask in an interview (so you’ll get the job you actually want)

You know the word ‘interview’? It originally meant “to see each other”.

These days it’s become a bit more one-sided than that. Instead of that equal idea of two people seeing each other – checking each other out to work out if there’s a good fit – we’ve let the interview morph into a situation where one side has all the power, and the other is left sort of hopping from foot to foot nervously.

Interviews suck

Nowadays it’s more about candidates putting on a snappy suit and trying to convince the hiring manager that they’re right for the job. But really, you’re there to interview them, as much as they’re there to interview you. You don’t just want any job: you want a job that you’re going to happily excel in.

That means you should be walking into interviews armed with questions for your interviewer. Things that’ll help you understand who they are, what the company is about and whether you actually want to work there.

It also doesn’t hurt that asking interested, interesting questions will give you the edge – you’ll stand out as someone who cares about doing a good job, and that you’ve homework.

So, when at the end of the meeting, they ask “do you have any questions?” that’s your chance to find out whether you even want this job or not. We’ve jotted down a list of the top questions we love seeing candidates ask in interviews. You don’t have to ask all of these, or even any of them – you might have dreamed up something else you really care about and want to know. But use these as a starting point. Have a think about which ones feel the most important to you and make sure you go in armed with those.


  1. How would you describe this company’s culture?

Make sure you prep some follow up questions for this one. Many people won’t know how to explain things off the top of their head. They’ll say vague things like “friendly”. Ask questions about how long people stay at the company, how long people genereally spend at the office and much time people tend to spend hanging out together outside of work.

  1. What do you like about working here?

Hopefully you’ll get answers about the interesting work or shared values. Other answers – or lack of answers – will be telling too.

  1. What things does this company do to encourage learning or development?

This is a biggy – not just because training is such an important part of growing in your career, but because it shows how much the company is willing to invest in their people.

  1. What do most people here do on their lunch breaks?

This gives you clues about the social life in the office. Also, if they look at your blankly and say something like “lunchbreak? watchu talkin’ ’bout willis?!”, that’s a warning bell of both a really intense working culture and terrible taste in pop-culture references.

  1. What are some of the biggest challenges facing the team at the moment?

This gives the hiring manager a chance to be a bit more honest with you than a job ad. Listen for the way they attribute any challenges – if there’s a whiff that the manager blames his or her staff, that’s a massive red flag.

  1. What was the biggest thing the team achieved last year? Any awards or big projects they’re proud of?

This is a great follow up question to the one above. It gives you a good insight into how the company recognizes and celebrates wins.

  1. How do you evaluate employee performance? How do you decide if I’m winning or not?

Performance evaluations are actually a positive thing for the employee – if you’re killing it, it gives you the chance to start conversations about pay-rises and more opportunities. If you’re having a hard time of it, it allows you and your manager to take an objective view of the situation, so you can find solutions together. Having a process in place shows that the company recognises their role in helping their people excel.


If you’re interested in candidates getting a better idea of your culture before the interview even starts, give Weirdly a go. A free trial takes just 30secs to set up.

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Building high performing teams: Things we can learn from the All Blacks

Business and sports teams aren’t all that different really – people coming together to achieve great things. So it makes sense to look to the world’s best sports teams when building high performing teams in our own workplaces.

I admit it. I’m what you’d describe as a “sporadic rugby fan”. And by sporadic I mean, every four years for the final two games of the World Cup.

But at 5am on the morning of the Rugby World Cup final I was sitting in the dark, dressed in black, glued to my tv along with the rest of New Zealand. And what we got was the perfect example of a high performing team in action.

The seamless way they worked together made the game look almost choreographed.

Nehe was right where Richie needed him to make that first try – like magic. And how was Dan getting that drop goal away while being charged down by the Aussie front line. Insane.

Individually, they’re all incredible athletes, there’s no denying it. But that’s not what won them the cup. What they displayed was teamwork in its truest sense. It’s what wins World Cup finals – and what business people everywhere are breaking their backs trying to replicate.

Because, let’s face it, if our teams operated with that kind of seamless singularity, we’d all be driving heaps fancier cars.


Nice black uniforms and a shared mental model

It’s not a coincidence that sports metaphors feature so heavily in business-talk; things are par for the course, we don’t drop the ball, we make a game plan, we touch base… Businesses know they’d like to be more like winning sports teams.

So what is it that the All Blacks have that most businesses don’t? Well, other than nice black uniforms and motivational messages written on their wrists, the All Blacks have only one goal. They need to “stop the other team from scoring points, while we ourselves score many points”.


How to sports with or without high performing teams



That clarity and simplicity of ambition means they’ve developed what scientists call a Shared Mental Model. This gives team members a clear understanding of the task, what part they need to play and what everyone else will be doing. That’s where they get that choreographed feel. It also gives them instinctive flexibility – when Ben Smith was sin binned, the AB’s shifted immediately to their one-man-down plan.


Winning with high performing teams (in your own business)

Like a sports game, your business needs a bunch of people who aren’t just skilled, but who also want to play your way.

They agree on your definition of “winning” and are emotionally invested in pushing towards it. And, to be honest, that’s the trickiest part. What if a few of the All Blacks viewed success as “trying our best”, “giving the fans a good show” or “being spotted by managers of other, richer teams”. These are all valid ideas of “winning” but would mean the individual All Blacks would be playing quite different games of rugby.

That’s what happens a lot in organisations. You might think winning is turning a profit while also protecting the environment. Meanwhile your sales team are off trying to rake in the conversions at any cost. Maybe winning to you means being number one in sales – but the marketing team are focussed on producing ads that make consumers love your brand (but don’t necessarily push them to buy). Again, all valid ideas of winning that would see your company pulled in opposite directions.

Building high performing teams with a shared mental model is hard, but not impossible.

The key is to consider a candidate’s personal values, goals and personality as carefully as you do their skill set. Think of questions that will give you a clue to what they really care about, what motivates them and how likely they are to get onboard with your company’s game plan. Because in the business world, you need people who aren’t just wearing your colours, but are actually on your team.

Want to recruit some All Blacks? Or at least, some awesome people who’ll help your team win their own World Cup? Use Weirdly to start building your own high performing teams with a shared mental model.

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Quirky questions: They’re not just a recruitment gimmick

You are Hercules. Zeus has asked you to move 300 boulders from the Pantheon to Mount Olympus, do you:

a) Enlist a team of your jacked friends to help you transport all the boulders.

b) Devise a system to float the boulders through the aquifers.


Sound like an odd question to be asked during a recruitment process? Good.

It’s one of the brilliant Weirdly quiz questions created and used by our mates at Paysavvy. Designed to jolt you out of the same-old/same-old job application mindset and get you answering honestly, this style of non-traditional questioning is being used by the most innovative companies in the world.

Not just a gimmick, these quirky questions do actually have a useful purpose. As well as helping candidates break out of that “how can I make myself look better” mindset, it can demonstrate their ability to think on their feet. Showing you how they go about logically coming to an answer to an unexpected question is great and, especially in an interview, demonstrating a willingness to attempt an answer is actually often more important than the answer itself.

But we reckon this is something that ALL businesses can embrace – not just the usual creative or techy-types.

It’s stuff like this that helps your recruitment process stand out; It can give less well-known brand a bit of pizazz or snazz or jazz.

Here are a few fun questions that might whacky up your own recruitment process a little, as well and helping you get to know the real person behind that CV:


Weirdly Revealing insightful questions


1.What do you want to be when you grow up? This question always disarms the applicant a bit. Talking about aspirations this way frees us (and them) up to consider bigger possibilities, . You will nearly always get a smile, so it’s also helpful if the interviewee is having difficultly warming up.


2.What would you do if you had $100,000 and 1 hour to spend it? This question can uncover charitable tendencies, or someone who has financial goals. There’s quite a bit of pressure with this question as it has constraints from the get-go so seeing how someone reacts to that can be really useful.


3.What is your favourite saying? Or What saying do you live by? This can be tricky because not everyone has one of these. If they don’t respond quickly you could flip it to something slightly more universal (like question 4).


4.What is the best lesson your mum or dad ever taught you? This gives you some insight into one (or more) of their base personal values. It’s a super useful question for trying to align them with the culture of your business and hints at the qualities and attributes they value in friends or workmates.


5.What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Or What is one crazy thing that you want to do before you die? Everyone has a different shaped comfort zone so “stepping outside of it” isn’t the same for all of us. This question isn’t really designed to find out the candidate’s level of crazy but more that they are prepared to get outside of their own comfort zone at some point. Finding out how they feel about that crazy thing can be very interesting. Are they nervous? excited? reluctant? What’s holding them back? It’s especially important to find out when they are considering a job in a new place, with new people and in a role that might require some personal stretch.


These aren’t as kooky as your typical “you’re a tiny guy in a giant blender” question, but they’re a big break away from the standard behavioural ones we’re all used to.

The key thing to remember is that there aren’t any right or wrong answers to these questions. It’s about trying to gain a bit more insight into who these people really are. And, lets face it, it’s about making the interview (or your Weirdly quiz) a bit more fun and interesting for both parties.


If you’re keen to inject a bit more life into your recruitment by asking interesting, insight-producing questions like this, give Weirdly a go. 

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Just add jazz-hands: 5 ways to improve your candidate experience

For all this chatter about clever graduate campaigns and feel good stories of people finding work holding cardboard signs, this is anything but an easy job market for employers.

When you need skilled people, you have to fight for them. Many of the best people aren’t even looking for work. To get them on board – and keep them – money isn’t enough. These candidates will get paid well where ever they go. So, the trick is to make sure they love you, they really love you.

Everyone loves Weirdly

It used to be job seekers who had to dust off their best outfits, and practice their firm, but friendly handshake. Now it’s your turn.

If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager, you need to start that relationship off with a bang.

Think about it. What’s it like to apply for a job with you?

If you’re making people deal with confusing long-winded processes, stale form letters, or even worse – getting no reply at all – then you’re losing your chance to choose from the best talent. Asking them to trudge though a dry, traditional process is like saying, “Welcome to Office Space. You will wither and die here”.

Weirdly means no more unhappy candidates

The good ones are clever. They know what they’re worth and they know they can pick and choose. So if your candidate experience is lacking, maybe because of vague job descriptions or information that’s too hard to find, they won’t even bother. And on top of that, these people are also more likely to share their experiences on social media, or over a glass of wine with friends (who you probably also want to hire sometime).

So even if you have a million billion dollars and heaps of perks to lure people to your business, the candidate experience is still super important – and often overlooked. So that’s awesome news for those of us who don’t have big budgets and a ping-pong table in every corner. If everyone else is offering a really meh candidate experience, it’ll only take a teeny bit of effort to impress those impressive applicants.


So, are you jazzed up about making your candidate experience more jazzy? Here are five ways to do it:


Make sure people can find your job ads. 

This is in the derp-you-don’t-say basket, but it’s one that heaps of people fail at. So, put the link where people can find it – social media channels are great for this. Your own website is good too – although make sure it’s on a page that’s easy to find from your home page. When you’re posting it on job boards, use clear descriptive headlines and try to make these things your ideal targets are actual searching for, otherwise people will scroll merrily on past.


Kill the forms  

Maybe there’s someone out there who loves filling out forms, but I’ve never met them.

So, forms are the enemy. Kill them.

You need to gather info, sure, but either make that process super fun, or think carefully about what you really need to know. We’ve had people get in touch with us because they’ve had such an amazing time doing a Weirdly quiz, they want to know who else is hiring using Weirdly so they can apply for those jobs as well. Yay for us, but also, more importantly, awesome for our clients – when candidates start seeking you out because of your recruitment process, that’s a proper win.


Test for culture-fit

How well a person fits with your team and your vision is often the difference between a good hire and one that doesn’t work out so well. So, think about ways you can prescreen people. This won’t just cut down on the time you spend sifting through CVs – it’ll also attract people who care about a company’s culture and vision. And guess what? Those are the people you want to hire – the ones who could get a job anywhere, but are looking for a role they can feel passonate about. You can use Weirdly to help you do that, but making sure your job ad reflects your culture (rather than standard recruitment or HR speak) is also important.


Make it mobile.

70% of people are looking for jobs on a mobile and almost half of people won’t bother with application process they can’t access through a mobile. Add those numbers together and you’ve got an answer: make sure you’re mobile.


Reply. Nicely.

Don’t be the black hole of recruitment. It costs exactly zero dollars to write a friendly “thanks for your application” autoresponder. That way applicants feel acknowledged- and reassured that they did everything right. Be friendly, be brief and tell people about the next steps.

Then, if they’re unsuccsessful, don’t leave them hanging. This is another chance for you to leave an awesome impression of the company.

And that’s what this is all about really. Hiring the right person right now is important, sure, but building and keeping a reputation as a great place to work is going to make your job way easier in the long run. So when those hot-shot employees are sitting around over that wine talking about where they’d love to work, yours is a name that comes up.

Want to jazzy up your own candidate experience? Give Weirdly a go today – it takes just 30secs to get started

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Scaling startup culture: How to grow without losing your soul

This is a guest post by Kirsti Grant – formerly VP of talent at Vend. Kirsti’s pretty awesome (we invited her to be on the Weirdly advisory board for a reason), but more than that, she’s got first hand experience of scaling startup culture in a crazy high-growth, highly competitive market. She’s a pro.

Prior to working in a role where my responsibility was to scale the company culture at Vend all I really wanted was to find a role in a company with an organisational culture that fit me. I didn’t realise it at the time but now it’s really easy to look back at what it was that was motivating me to join the company and how closely those motivations ended up being linked to the values of the company.

  • I wanted to be the best, therefore I wanted to be surrounded by the best
  • I wanted a place where my work would have a positive impact on my life. Where work and life would complement one another
  • I wanted to be really proud of the work I was doing and the impact it was making on customers

As a company, one of the biggest challenges you’ll find is being able to articulate your culture. The number of people who have launched into pitches on how awesome their culture is because they have foosball and beer is amazing. And by amazing I mean terrifying.

That’s not your culture, that’s not why people turn up to work every day. Having cool stuff around is just cool stuff. It’s more important that you provide people with what they need to do awesome work and a purpose that will get them excited about going above and beyond for you.

That’s where you really need to get to know your people, understand their motivations and have some company values & behaviours that your people can actually buy into.

Team bonding - for when your team share values and make sure you looking tight at all times.

Joining Vend as VP of Talent I was given a perfect culture to scale. It had all of those above points I wanted plus a whole lot more which made the pressure that much greater. The message from all the people was very much “don’t fuck the culture!”.

Thinking about how we managed to grow the Vend team so rapidly over the past couple of years, without doing that is tricky. There’s no particularly easy answer. It comes down to every little thing every single person in your company says and does – and let’s not forget that every company is different. This is one of the advantages you have as a startup, it’s a blank canvas and a huge opportunity.

For me, one of the things that made my role at Vend easy is how linked to the company values I was – it was easy for me to live and breathe “delighting customers, doing the impossible, taking care of the Vend family” and all the sub values & behaviours that are linked to those core values. It all came naturally because I  (fortunately) was the right fit.

Scaling the culture starts at the beginning of the recruitment process. It begins at the careers page and lives within the application form, communications, interviews and into how you make offers and onboard new employees. Your mission as a recruiter is to give the most accurate portrayal of what life at your company is like. You can’t be surprising people when they start with behaviour that is the opposite of what you promised. It’s never words and always actions.

If you have a hardcore, boring, form-filling process how do you think candidates will take that?

Filling out recruitment forms makes us go noooooo


If you build a good process your candidates don’t even realise they’re going through a process, the communication is natural & personalised, even if you do have a template it should be so good that the candidate doesn’t even realise.

If you’re really getting to know candidates and it’s authentic, the guards come down, they open up and hey, if you slip an x onto the end of an email you’ll probably get one in return.

Remember, your job is to make sure that every single person that walks through your doors as a new employee is aligned to your values and wants to be a part of your story, for all the right reasons.

You can’t always get this right but know that you need to do something about those situations where you got it wrong as quickly & humanely as possible. If you weren’t to address these situations what would your employee’s think about your ability to be up to the task of scaling your culture?

While you’re busy hiring for culture don’t think for a second that your business isn’t evolving, that components of the culture aren’t changing and that people themselves aren’t evolving. Taking people on the journey of change is hard when it comes to culture, you’re always going to have people that refer to the good old days. Knowing what parts of the culture should and shouldn’t evolve, knowing how to communicate, what to compromise. It’s all a juggle but one you can’t avoid.

Just remember, the 2nd worst thing you can do is not change. The very worst thing you could do is fail to hire people that fit & enhance your company culture.


Want to give hiring for culture a go? Weirdly is great for that! Jump in for a free trial today.

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Borsalinos to snapbacks: What organizational culture can learn from New York City

If you’ve been following our twitter, you’ll have seen that Weirdly’s visiting the Big Apple. Riding subways and eating hot sandwiches – we’re learning about what makes business tick in this town. In between bites of bagel, a realisation hit me like a yellow cab: there’s a lot we could learn from the people in New York City about organizational culture.

It doesn’t take much time here to see that this isn’t a city at all. Rather than a big ol’ humanity stew, this is actually a collection of villages, filled with fiercely loyal residents, who both define and are defined by the places they live and work.

These neighbourhoods might have been split along racial and socio-economic lines traditionally, but that’s changing. The city is arranging itself by cultural value. Now you see well-heeled people choosing to live out in Brooklyn, even when they could afford swankier inner-city neighbourhoods, because it feels more like them. There are students cramming into shoe boxes or loitering around diners in the upper east side, because the vibe reflects who they are. Taylor Swift even shunned the traditional park-views for a loft in creative TriBeCa – she’s so edgy.

Taylor Swift being Weirdly edgy

It’s part of what makes NYC such a remarkable place – walk a couple of blocks in either direction and you’ll meet another set of local loyalists, eager and proud to show off the features of their local patch. This is the sweet side of tribalism. You see it in the way people dress – it’s not just tourists who wear NYC tee-shirts or Brooklyn caps.

Fundamentally, this magical arrangement is because each neighbourhood stands for something, and that something attracts people who stand for that too. People find places where they belong – and those places in turn, belong to them. These people care about the neighbourhoods they choose to join. They mourn the removal (or addition) of graffiti, they create community-led initiatives – there’s a clear sense of pride that comes along with that feeling of belonging and ownership.

There’s a lot we, as business owners, can learn from the way that humanity has arranged itself here. Think of employees choosing to wear corporate clothes, proud of the company they represent and eager to contribute to a place where they feel they belong. This isn’t some kind of Office-Space “pieces of flair” cheese fest. This is something that actually happens when companies are filled with people with shared values.

Org culture isn't just about wearing sweet sweet flair

That sense of shared values, of belonging is what makes NYC hum.

Cut off a piece of that sweet apple and feed it to your own business – we could all learn a few lessons about creating culture from this city.

Your job application process is boring: Here’s why you need to care, and fast.

You want interesting, cool people for your business? People who will challenge the status quo, ones who get excited by fresh, new approaches to challenges, or who will inject new energy into your team? Is “creating a culture of innovation” high on your to-do list?

Same. So why are we all using recruitment process that reflect the total opposite?

Boring, tired, process-heavy — let’s face it. Traditional recruiting experiences just don’t make you attractive to the exciting talent.

We have a lot of conversations with CEOs and managers who want to know how to attract great people to their businesses and teams. Some of them don’t have the cool, quirky brands or the budgets that other businesses do.

There are tonnes of things you can do find to snag top-talent attention, with just a little bit of time and money: Increase social activity in the places that these interesting people live, write and circulate great content, ask your work force to refer like minded and skilled individuals, always be recruiting etc.

All this is very well and good BUT is anyone actually changing the job application process itself once someone is introduced to your business? Or is it still “please send me your CV and cover letter”.

Businesses seem to be going to great lengths to showcase their appeal and relevance yet the application process has not changed in a gazillion years.

Potential applicants see great careers sites, advertising, videos etc and then get the same message they always have about emailing their cv.

Surely this is the biggest and easiest opportunity any of us have ever had to stand out and create a better job application process. What if we said something like:

  • We want you to engage with us a bit more before you invest all that time in your CV and cover letter.
  • Do you have any questions for us before you apply?
  • Is there something that you’d rather send us (than an CV) as proof of why you should work for us?
  • Send us a 30 second video outlining why you’re a great fit for our company

This frustration is one of the things that originally drove us to create Weirdly. Removing the CV road-block and instead, building a recruitment process on something simple (like a quiz), seemed like a good idea. But the real clincher was flipping the process and looking at it from the job applicant’s side.

See, the big, boring recruitment model we’ve all been operating for forever is based on the idea that I (the company) hold all the power and you (my adoring public and job-applying minions) are desperate for my affections, my attention and the paychecks I can bestow.

Here’s a bit of napalm to go with your morning coffee: That’s not how the top talent view employment.

They’re looking for work they can believe in. They want to be part of a movement, or at least, part of an organisation that doesn’t treat them like a number. They’re driven by exciting challenge and higher purpose. And they expect transparency and curiosity from you, the same way you’ll expect it from them.

Picture your recruitment process like a gate this talent has to walk through. Does your gate look like something these people are excited to knock on?

Does it show them how different you are, or does it show them that actually, despite all those dollars you spend on marketing campaigns and ping-pong tables, you’re actually just like everyone else in your market.

Injecting a bit of fun and interesting isn’t rocket science. We’ve tried to make it super accessible as a simple start towards making your process engaging, candidate-focussed and on brand. But there are other ways. Even if we DO have snazzy and informative analytics to back it all up.

So, whatever you do, why not try out something a bit different. Spice up that application process. I dare you.

Want a quick, easy way to make your own recruitment process feel more fun and attract better talent? Give Weirdly a go with this free trial – it’ll take 30secs to set up and slots easily into your existing workflow.

Weirdly quiz sign up now