Abhishek Shah is an experienced tech and HR leader with over ten years of experience creating thriving businesses, leveraging technology, and mentoring people. He founded Testlify, a talent assessment platform in 2022, and is passionate about helping founders build high-performing tech teams. In this exclusive interview, Abhishek shares his insights and experiences in building world-class startup teams.
Could you describe what Testlify is about? What inspired you to start this business?
Testlify is an innovative talent assessment platform that I founded to help companies make more informed and objective hiring decisions. Our platform offers over 500 test templates in various categories, such as cognitive skills, psychometric assessments, technical skills, and role-specific skills. We also provide a live programming platform for interviewers to observe candidates coding in real-time, enhancing the overall hiring process.
The idea for Testlify came about during the COVID-19 pandemic when my IT consulting business, HNR Tech, experienced a massive influx of job applicants. With a small HR team and countless applicants, we desperately needed a more efficient way to evaluate candidates. So we developed Testlify initially for our use.
As I shared our success with networking groups in Mumbai and Philadelphia, people became excited and expressed interest in using Testlify for their own hiring processes. Encouraged by the positive response, we decided to offer the product to a wider audience. Since then, Testlify has grown through word of mouth and has become an integral tool for many businesses in their hiring processes.
Why is it important to have a good team? What makes a team great?
Having a good team is crucial for any business because it forms the foundation upon which success is built. A great team not only possesses the right skills and expertise but also shares common values and goals. This ensures that they can work together effectively and contribute to the company's growth and success.
What makes a team great is a combination of factors. Firstly, having the right mix of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives fosters creativity and innovation. This diversity enables the team to approach problems from different angles and develop well-rounded solutions.
Secondly, a great team exhibits strong communication and collaboration skills. Open and honest communication fosters trust, allowing team members to share their ideas, give constructive feedback, and work together to achieve common goals.
Thirdly, team members should be adaptable and agile. In the ever-changing business landscape, the ability to pivot quickly and embrace change is essential for staying ahead of the competition and seizing new opportunities.
Lastly, a great team is built on a strong culture fit. When team members share the same core values and beliefs, they are more likely to be aligned in their mission and vision, leading to a unified and harmonious work environment. This promotes employee satisfaction, reduces turnover, and ultimately contributes to the company's overall success.
In my experience, having a great team has been the key to building successful businesses. By focusing on attracting the finest talent and ensuring a good culture fit, I have been able to create thriving enterprises that deliver superior experiences for our clients, leading to continued growth and lasting relationships.
In your experience, what are the first steps when starting to form a team? How do you ensure that a person will fit a company culture?
The first steps in forming a team involve identifying the key roles and skill sets required to complement your abilities and drive your business forward. Start by determining your business vision and recognizing the areas where you need assistance, either because you lack expertise or don't enjoy those tasks. Then, begin the search for your first hire.
To ensure a person will fit the company culture, it's essential to have a thorough hiring process. This involves gathering a sufficient number of applications and carefully screening them. Invest time in interviewing potential candidates, getting to know their values, and assessing their compatibility with your vision.
One way to find suitable candidates is to search within your immediate network or friend circle. However, it's crucial not to take shortcuts and to put in the necessary effort to find the right person for the role.
Ultimately, finding a passionate candidate, who shares your vision, and is willing to work hard is essential for a successful team. As your business grows, continue to hire great people who can help you achieve your goals and further expand the company.
What are the main struggles of companies when hiring new employees?
Companies face several main struggles when hiring new employees. The first challenge is assessing candidates' skills in areas where the interviewer lacks expertise. For example, if someone with a sales and marketing background is trying to hire a programmer, they might struggle to evaluate the candidate's technical abilities. Skill assessment platforms like Testlify can help address this issue by providing expert-created questions that allow companies to assess candidates objectively.
The second struggle is dealing with a large volume of applications and resumes. Relying solely on resumes can be misleading since they may not accurately reflect a candidate's abilities. Skill assessments can help companies focus on the candidates' actual abilities rather than their resumes, leading to more objective hiring decisions.
Lastly, unconscious bias can influence the hiring process, causing interviewers to make decisions based on factors unrelated to a candidate's skills or experience. By using assessment tools that minimize bias, companies can make more informed and equitable talent decisions.
In summary, the main struggles when hiring new employees include assessing skills in unfamiliar areas, sifting through numerous applications and resumes, and addressing unconscious bias. Utilizing skill assessment platforms can help companies overcome these challenges and make better hiring decisions.
Do you think there are or there should be differences in the process of hiring for fully remote teams? What should differentiate this hiring process?
When it comes to hiring for fully remote teams, it's important to recognize that there are some differences in the process. Remote work demands self-motivated individuals who can work with minimal guidance, so skill assessment becomes even more important. You want to make sure that the candidates you hire can figure things out on their own since remote training can be more challenging than in-person training.
Also, getting to know a candidate's personality traits and values is crucial, as a remote culture is more difficult to build. You want to make sure that your remote employees fit in well with your team and can work effectively in your company's environment, whether that's fast-paced or more focused on perfection.
Now, you don't need to make huge changes to your hiring process for remote teams, but you should be mindful of the lack of in-person interactions. Using tools like personality assessments can help you get a better understanding of a candidate's strengths and potential roles within your company. This way, you can get a feel for their character, even if you don't meet them face-to-face.
So, to sum it up, when hiring for remote teams, it's essential to focus on skill assessment and evaluating candidates' personalities to ensure that they'll be successful in your unique work culture.
What would be your advice for people who are starting their own business, and maybe building their team now?
Starting your own business is an incredible journey, and you've already taken that brave first step. It's time to embrace the challenge and trust in the power of teamwork. Remember, you don't have to do everything on your own – building a strong team around you is one of the most important steps in growing your business.
Don't wait too long to add team members. Identify the roles you need, and clearly define the objectives they should achieve. Once you have that figured out, be bold and start hiring. Bringing on board talented, driven individuals will help take your business to new heights. These individuals will bring their unique perspectives and strengths, allowing your business to flourish in ways you may not have imagined.
So, my advice to you is this: believe in yourself and your vision, but also trust in the power of a great team. Invest in the people who will stand by you, support you, and work towards the success of your venture. Together, you'll overcome obstacles and build something truly remarkable. Embrace the journey and let your passion and determination guide you to even greater heights.