It's very difficult to recruit a Senior-level specialist for a startup. The knowledge of a Junior-level specialist is enough to build a product prototype

Interview with Tatiana Melnichuk - an expert in tech recruiting, the founder of the project Zero2Hero, as well as the head of an international IT recruitment agency Lucky Hunter
In the interview, Tatiana Melnichuk talks about the pitfalls of recruiting tech specialists for startups, shares her personal experience, gives practical advice on how to assemble a development team.
— Please tell us about the market situation. How difficult is it to recruit IT specialists for young startup projects?
— It goes like this: a huge number of tech startups is being launched now. If you ask me, if it's difficult to attract IT specialists to a startup, I'll answer - yes, it is: nine and a half out of ten startups fail before the first release. There are many reasons for such poor statistics: problems with investing, wrong recruitment, or the product just doesn't fit the market. As a result, the product doesn't withstand even the minimal hypothesis test. Good specialists understand this and are not ready to join young startups.
— What to do in this case?
— If your startup isn't being launched on the basis of a large tech company that has great investments, then it is necessary to attract junior-level specialists if there is such an opportunity, or to provide competitive conditions for candidates. For example, you can offer project work for remote workers. But at the same time, you need to understand that the startup founder should have the proper skills in hiring a developer and correctly set tasks to them so that there is no time lag. If the founder is far enough from IT, then it is better to assemble a team under the leadership of a team leader, who will eventually build you a ready-made prototype.
— Tatiana, do you have experience in working with startup projects?
— Yes, even before starting my agency, I worked in several startups, both successful and unsuccessful :) I have a great experience in launching tech startups.
— What specialists were needed to launch the startups?
— Initially, you always need a Team Leader - a lead developer who'll evaluate the project execution time. If the hypothesis is verified, and the startup starts to develop, then the load grows, so you need to scale up your project. As this stage, you hire a Sysadmin. You also need either a separate Backend and Frontend developers, or a Full-stack developer. Some startups can recruit a QA Engineer. If it's a mobile project, then IOS/Android developers are involved. By the way, there should always be administrative staff: outsource or an in-house accountant. If the company is already starting to develop rapidly, then you need to hire a recruiter, HR specialist.
— Let's remember your last collaboration with startups. What tech specialists were working there?
— We had a team leader, and we also hired Junior+ developers. They were learning very fast. The guys were ready to work at an intense pace. They were motivated by a cool product and a good experience and were ready to work for the average market salary (or even lower).
— How did you determine the salary?
— Based on the market: what employers offer and candidates ask for. In 90% of cases, the market is ready to offer less than the candidates ask for. If we can't meet the requirements of the candidate, then we make compromises: lower the demands for the candidate, for example. Since IT is the candidate's market, it's often the customer who makes concessions and not the candidate.
— And what was the main selection criterion? How did you understand that the person is suitable for the project?
— We have a specific application for a job opening that the customer provides us, and we always follow this application. However, without some flexibility, finding the right person is not always possible. We can find either a ready-made specialist who will be "expensive" for the company and isn't always ready to work at a startup, or we make compromises and are searching for a less qualified specialist. They need education, but they are ready to work at an intensive pace, building a lot of "crutches", and the company will earn plus a dollar from these crutches.
— You say, that there two options: to hire a good Senior-level specialist to build a prototype or to assemble a team of the Junior-level developers more or less suitable for the role. In that case, why it's better to build a prototype when you can hire an experienced developer and build an MVP?
— The prototype is an essential part of the launch of any more or less well-made product. With the help of a prototype, you check the business-model and understand whether it's worth investing in the product or not, without spending a lot of money and time in advance. Therefore, you shouldn't do MVP right away. A Senior-level specialist will cope with any task, but his services are expensive, and, as I said, it's difficult to attract a specialist of this level to a startup. Why spend so much effort when you can hire a novice specialist, whose knowledge is quite enough to build a prototype.
— What do you think, and why do specialists agree to work in a startup. What they benefit from?
— Many startups promise options. There are also very cool startups that earn their first dollar in just a week after launching a prototype. I also believe that every developer has a dream to be part of the creation of "Facebook killer" - a product that will change the world of the tech industry.
— In general, what is the most important thing when recruiting a team?
— It is important that people are like-minded, not afraid to learn, try something new. Any technology can be quickly learned if you have a desire.
— Thanks! And the last question is. What mistakes can entrepreneurs make when building a team?
— First, open an office. Many startups like to rent a classy office, having received an investment of five million. They think that this is a lot of money and start investing it in some strange things. Secondly, skip the prototyping stage, don't conduct any market research, at least minimal marketing. The guys start launching a product, not knowing whether the market needs it or not, or launch a product that doesn't solve any problem.
Test the hypothesis?