How to hire people that know more than you

In his latest guest blog post, Edward Hendrick, Founder & CEO of Sonru, discusses how non-technical founders can successfully navigate the hiring process in the early stages of building a technology company.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the South East of Ireland. It was all I knew until I went on to study Agricultural Science at University College Dublin, where I specialized in Agribusiness & Rural Development. When I tell people about the Sonru story so far, the conversation usually circles back to whether or not I was always a “techie”? They’re usually surprised when I reveal my background.

How to build a technology company without technical expertise?

I guess the next logical question is, how do non-technical founders hire technical people to build a technology company? Well, I was lucky because I met Chris Horan, a techie with immense knowledge and experience, when Sonru was just an idea, and he joined as CTO soon after. However, you can also apply this question to any discipline that is not within your scope of expertise.

Reach out to Experts

I didn’t have the expertise to assess accurately, let’s say, a software engineer or an accountant. However, I knew people that were very strong in these areas, and I was always very good at asking for help, an essential skill for every founder! I brought in the expertise to help on the technical capabilities allowing me to focus on the culture, passion, and Sonru operations side.

Of course, this was so much easier to do using our interviewing platform. We could structure the interview into specific sections and ask the experts to review the questions relating to their expertise. It’s a more manageable task when they can check responses whenever and wherever they want, and better still, it’s equally as easy to add another viewer to get a second opinion.

Bring in Consultants

In a very early stage company, reaching out to experts can be difficult if you don’t know any in a given field. However, there are local agencies with a pool of experts that you can access from experience to bring them in to consult. These are many valuable resources to tap into, such as enterprise boards, industry associations, and networks. You can also always engage in specialist companies/agencies.

Trust your Hiring Managers

Within one year or so, I had hired three or four reliable candidates who were experts in their field, and I trusted them to flesh out their departments with the senior, mid-level, and entry-level employees they needed. I was always at hand to view the video interviews and attend subsequent interview rounds for those Sonru soft skills, but ultimately, they assessed the core capabilities. Over the years, it’s been incredible to see other organizations follow suit when it comes to using video interviewing regardless of seniority level or discipline.

Internal Candidate Pipeline

We often look outwards when new vacancies arise when the best candidate can be right under your nose. I like to think that Sonru is a company that enables mobility both vertically and horizontally across disciplines. We’ve seen entry-level people rise through the ranks and others switch departments to an entirely new career trajectory. Many of our staff are keen on lifelong learning and invest their time in further education and courses, which seems fitting to reward that passion. Again, the video interview tool is useful because it ensures that every candidate [external and internal] receives the same interview experience. The videos are there on record, providing our decisions are objective.

In conclusion, you don’t have to be an expert in every area to build a global company. All you have to do is realize when you need to seek help, and then it’s just a matter of asking in the right places.

Sonru Video Interviewing created this article may include contributions and research gathered from Sonru clients and candidates between 2011 to 2020.