You're looking for a new recruit and you're out to find the best, of course, what else would you want for your startup but the very best talent?
There are only a certain number of Elon Musks, Mark Zuckerbergs and Richard Bransons out there and guess what, they're not on the market for hire, so when you're searching for that perfect hire, your perfect candidates likely aren't even going to be in the candidate pool!
The reality is that there is only a certain number of the 'very best', a handful perhaps at the time you're looking to hire, and this talent is going to be snapped up right away with financial incentives and other offerings that, assuming you are a startup, you may not be able to compete with just yet.
There are however a larger number of good, very good in fact, very qualified candidates who you're viewing as second best or 'not quite right' as they weren't your number one, the top of their class with bells on. A startup needs innovation and room for growth, that is the nature of the beast that you are nurturing. Your people will grow with your company and the ability to grow and mould to your working practices or speak up and address an issue when they see it or offer an innovative, creative solution are qualities you don't want to miss out on.
As a recruitment agency, this is also something you need to avoid doing for your clients; offer up options which realistically fit the needs and designs of their company, not offering up the best 'on paper' candidate you can find.
Hiring the very best, 'perfect', candidate is going to cost more, plain and simple; and as a startup, you're not going to be too flush for a while. So save your money and maybe invest in a candidate with less experience; one thing you can afford to do is take the time to train them or give them the support they need to learn on the job.
Can you remember being turned away from your first job application because of lack of experience, when you were trying to get some experience? It doesn't make sense! So, instead of looking for the Manager with 15 year's experience, consider the candidate with 1 year's experience who is looking to broaden their horizons, their training and experience is likely more up to date and this candidate will almost definitely not be too stuck in their ways, which is a risk you run as a startup, with a very seasoned candidate. You may even consider, in this vein, bringing an intern, or number of interns into the fold, this gives you a chance to promote those, who are already working well and working hard, internally, and allow interns to support their department. Interns are, generally speaking, a cheaper hire due to lack of experience, are eager to learn and can be easily taught the culture, and ways of your startup, with room to move up and develop their experience.
Tailor your recruitment process to look for what you really need from the candidate, not only the 'most qualified' on paper, is also a possible solution to the never ending search for the 'perfect hire'. For example: if the role involves an element of customer interaction, the candidate may have exquisite grades and qualifications and degrees, but, upon meeting them, have very poor interpersonal skills. By ensuring your hiring process screens for these specific qualities, and is not only geared to source the 'perfect candidate' you will find the best candidate, for you! If you're losing a valued member of the team who you are replacing and it is appropriate to do so, ask them to help find or screen their replacement; they have intricate knowledge of the role and have performed in it well (you may even think you are losing the perfect candidate) so they have a much better insight into which candidate will truly thrive in the role.
Our advice? Treat all of your potential candidates with the benefit of the doubt, unless they prove they are not the one, unsuitable in some way, in some stage of your interview process; view and greet them all as though they could be your next hire and you could find the closest thing to a perfect hire that you're going to find, because really... that 'perfect hire' doesn't exist!