September 20, 2004

"Bad employees do more damage than no employee"

"I always keep two things in mind when hiring, no matter how desperate I feel: 1. a bad employee does far more damage than no employee, no matter the issue, and 2. A players hire A players, B players hire C players, and C players hire losers," says Joe Kraus, a co-founder of Internet search engine firm Excite in his new blog. "Let your standards slip once and you're only two generations away from death," he adds.

Quoting from the book How Would You Move Mt Fuji, Kraus points out how Microsoft "seeks to avoid hiring the wrong person, even if this occasionally means missing out on some good people."

Google, the other great tech company of our times, has a similar hiring policy. The company's "hiring process is notoriously long and complicated". "A single no-vote of the hiring committee means you're not in. Why? Because they put the principle of 'no false positives' to work. They assume that there is a huge talent pool of great people and that they can afford to pass on people that would be great fits in order to make sure they never let someone through who doesn't fit."

Kraus acknowledges that such stringent policies are very hard to adhere to - especially in a start-up where "you've got much more to do than you have people to do it". Despite this, he advises entrepreneurs not to compromise. "Slip up even once and it's trouble fast."