Via a friend, here’s a post about mistakes startups make in hiring. The argument is that failing to hire senior people first is going to lead to heartbreak because junior people tend not to know a competent potential teammate when they see one.

I’m not sure I really agree with Curtis’s premise here. In the instance he describes, the company hired a not-very-competent software engineer for an incredibly dumb reason: because the CEO, not being an expert engineer, just figured that all code was basically created equal, and thus failed to anticipate that badly written code could have real negative effects on his business. Well…I’m not an expert engineer, and I sure as hell know that bad code can have real negative effects on a business! For another thing, I bet that tons of “senior” people brought in to run startups have made a complete hash of things for a whole host of reasons, too. So it seems to me that the real problem is judgment. A CEO doesn’t need to be an expert on everything when hiring people senior or junior, he just needs to have good judgment and to know what questions to ask to nip potential problems in the bud.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how you can learn good judgment. Either you have it or you don’t.

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