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Building a Brilliant Team: 6 Hiring Tips for Hong Kong Startups

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Written By: Peony Wong @ Ooosh Coworking

Hiring for a startup is a little more complicated than hiring for any other business.

Sure, the concept is simple: build an all-star brand, search for talented individuals and convince them that this is an opportunity to enter the dynamic startup world. They will then get on board and show up for work with passion and productivity. Right?

If things were that simple, startups would all have the dream power team. But it is more complicated than that. So how do you go about finding the right fit for your startup? You could follow the traditional hiring process, or you could use a recruitment firm to do the hiring for you.

There is just one problem.

While recruitment firms have a super-fast turnaround, most of the pool of candidates that sign up will have a ton of opportunities coming their way. And if you are on a small budget, it is going to be hard to attract good talents. 

The good news is, startups are likely to have a little more flexibility in trying different options and strategies. Below, we are going to cover a few tips in the hiring process that help you get the right talents on board.

1. Creating a super job ad

Finding the best talent is a top priority for many businesses. Yet, most of us keep unwittingly turning away potential candidates with a seemingly boring job. It might seem obvious, but creating an eye-catching job ad helps you attract brilliant people. With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you create a super job ad:

Describe the job function accurately focusing more on the importance of the potential candidate on the team, but don’t exaggerate.

Define the roles, responsibilities and competencies needed for the position. Excite the candidate about the job.

Briefly introduce the key aspects of your company. Give some background information about the beliefs and culture to help the candidate understand what kind of environment they would be getting into.

Briefly introduce the team that the candidate would be joining.

Share testimonials from your current staff. Give the applicants a bit of insight into what the current staff think about the company, but don’t mislead them. It's a good idea to include even the slightly negative ones.

2. Using job ad platforms 

This may sound old-fashioned, but job ad platforms are still the favourite hiring channel for smaller businesses. Based on our experience speaking to Ooosh members and startup founders alike, these are a few platforms that work best for startups:

Started as a tiny professional networking site, LinkedIn has slowly morphed into a world force with millions of professionals. Despite the increasing number of social networks, LinkedIn remains the number one networking site for freelancers and business professionals. 

The Ooosh Job Board, an open platform for all (to post and view general job listings), is one of our many initiatives to enable digital transformation in Hong Kong. Leveraging our wide network in our very own tech and innovation ecosystem, we aim to enable the startup and tech community to seek new economy talents. Ooosh members, Booost Incubator incubatees and portfolio teams will have free access to featured listings.

AngelList is a popular job portal for angel investors, startups and job seekers looking for opportunities at startups. Created in 2010 with a mission to democratise the investment process, the platform has been helping startups with their challenges in fundraising and talent acquisition. It is especially suitable if you are looking for overseas talents.

WHub, on the other hand, is a local facilitator in the Hong Kong startup scene, hosting job fairs from time to time to help startups build stronger teams through recruiting the best talents. Like AngelList, WHub contributes to fostering the growth of the entire startup ecosystem.

Other job ad platforms include:

Founded in 1998, JobsDB is a recruitment portal with a strong presence in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. With over 220,000 corporate clients and over 14 million job seekers in the database, JobsDB is the largest online recruitment platform in Asia Pacific.

Canopy is a video-powered job platform that makes jobs interesting. Companies can showcase their office, culture and their team, as well as promoting their brand, giving candidates meaningful insights to make better career decisions.

Wantedly is probably the most popular social recruiting tool in the web industry. It is a gold mine of great opportunities for talents looking for a job that fulfils them. And the best part about it is that rather than matching applicants based on just the salary, they are matched based on their vision and values.

Coworking Spaces

If you are not a big fan of these platforms or if you prefer some real connection, why not make use of coworking spaces to get the word out? Coworking spaces can be a great source of new talents. You could just tell people that you are looking for new hires and ask for talent referrals. Or you could make use of the hiring wall or notice board like the ones we have at Ooosh to post your job ads and get word of your new position across the community.

3. Tweaking your interview content to make an accurate hire

After you have identified a few potential hires, what’s next?

One of the best ways to find out more about the person you are planning to hire is by interviews. But things are a bit different when it comes to startup interviews. While most interviewers focus more on the technical skills and qualifications, a startup job interview focuses more on how the candidate perceives the startup life. This gives you a little perspective on whether the applicant would fit into the dynamics of your startup.

One way to ease the candidate into the conversation is through a casual talk. Prepare casual questions to gauge their views and personality, paying particular attention to their answers to determine whether they are the right person for the role. It is also the perfect time to share with the candidate the challenges lying ahead. This helps manage their expectations.

You also want to assess whether they possess the soft skills needed in a startup environment. If they demonstrate good logic, excellent communication skills and exceptional ability to handle pressure, those are the people you want to have on your team.

Naturally, candidates want to put their best foot forward during an interview, which is why having a background check after the interview stage complements your overall strategy. It gives you a more solid idea of how the candidate will behave in an actual working environment and improves your accuracy of hire. It is also a great chance to learn about other aspects of the candidate other than their job skills and expertise. And, it’s free!

4. Adopting a hiring strategy that works

Startups often have just a few people on the team at the beginning, so adding a new hire at this stage is important for the company as they strive to drive growth. It makes a big difference if the new team member shares the same vision and has equally as much motivation to grow with the rest of the team.

But driving growth isn’t easy. While it’s not overly difficult to attract talents who like the startup challenge, given the limited resources and a rocky road ahead, they tend to start looking elsewhere quite soon either for better-paid jobs or ones that offer more stability. This turns staff turnover into a real challenge. How do you ensure that your staff will stick around for longer?

The answer is simple: simplify your hiring process. Hire a freelancer rather than a full-time employee. Instead of making a long-term commitment to a candidate whom you are not quite sure about, you can hire a few freelancers and engage them to see how well you work together before making further commitments.

5. Designing an incentive scheme

Purely relying on the salary you are offering to get commitment can only do so much. It is worth considering other benefits and perhaps designing an incentive scheme. For instance, you could add a year-end bonus to appreciate your team for the hard work they have put in all through the year, or you could introduce a long service award to help keep your talents around for longer.

6. Making use of coworking spaces

As we have covered, talents tend to come on board and leave quite soon for other opportunities. Instead of setting up a permanent office space for your new hire, one alternative is to use Hot Desks and Private Desks in a coworking space to keep costs low at the start. The coworking space environment also makes it easier to boost team spirit among your team as the common area and meeting rooms are designed to encourage teamwork and collaboration. You could even use these spaces for formal or informal interviews with your candidates rather than using a traditional setup. The cost savings and flexibility make coworking spaces a brilliant alternative for startups.


Hiring for a startup can be a nerve-racking affair especially with limited resources, but it is not impossible. We have covered a few basic but important things to note when hiring for a startup, some strategy tips and how coworking spaces can help you in the process, but we have yet to mention one other benefit of joining a coworking space community. Your team will be working alongside some other successful startups and entrepreneurs who are often quite open to sharing their hiring experience with you. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a great place to start.


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