Guest Blog: How to hire people that know more than you?

In his latest guest blog post, Edward Hendrick, Founder & CEO of Sonru, discusses how non-technical founders can successfully navigate the hiring process in the early stages of building a technology company.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the South East of Ireland. It was all I knew until I went on to study Agricultural Science in University College Dublin, where I specialised in Agribusiness & Rural Development. When I tell people about the Sonru story so far, the conversation usually circles back to whether or not I was always a “techie”? They’re usually surprised when I reveal my background.

How to build a technology company without technical expertise?

I guess the next logical question to ask is how do non-technical founders hire technical people in order to build a technology company? Well, I was lucky because I met Chris Horan, a techie with immense knowledge and experience when Sonru was just an idea, and he joined as CTO soon after. However, you can also apply this question to any discipline that is not within your scope of expertise.

Reach out to Experts

I didn’t have the expertise to accurately assess, let’s say, a software engineer or an accountant. However, I knew people that were very strong in these areas and I was always very good at asking for help, an essential skill for every founder! I brought in the expertise to help on the technical capabilities allowing me to focus on the culture, passion and Sonru operations side.

Of course, this was so much easier to do using our interviewing platform. We could structure the interview into specific sections and ask the experts to review the questions relating to their expertise. It’s an easier ask when they can review responses whenever and wherever they want and better still, it’s equally as easy to add another viewer to get a second opinion.

Bring in Consultants

In a very early stage company, reaching out to experts can be difficult if you simply don’t know any in a given field. However, from experience, there are local agencies with a pool of experts that you can access so bring them in to consult. These are many valuable resources to tap into such as enterprise boards, industry associations and networks. You can also always engage specialist companies/agencies.

Trust your Hiring Managers

Within one year or so, I had hired three or four very strong candidates who were experts in their field and I trusted them to flesh out their departments with the senior, mid-level and entry-level employees they needed. I was always at hand to view the video interviews and attend subsequent interview rounds for those Sonru soft skills but ultimately they were assessing the core capabilities. Over the years, it’s been incredible to see other organisations follow suit when it comes to using video interviewing regardless of seniority level or discipline. Our Research Department recently released an eBook exploring video interviewing usage by role level and discipline, available here.

Internal Candidate Pipeline

Often, we automatically look outwards when new vacancies arise when the best candidate can be right under your nose. I like to think that Sonru is a company that enables mobility both vertically and horizontally across disciplines. We’ve seen entry-level people rise through the ranks and others switch department to an entirely new career trajectory. Many of our staff are keen on lifelong learning and invest their personal time in further education and courses so it seems fitting to reward that passion. Again, the video interview tool is useful in this regard because it ensures every candidate [external and internal] receives the exact same interview experience. The videos are there on record ensuring our decisions are objective.

In conclusion, you don’t have to be an expert in every area to build a global company. All you have to do is to realise when you need to seek help and then it’s just a matter of asking in the right places.

Edward Hendrick
Ed holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agribusiness & Rural Development and a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship.

Since founding Sonru in 2007 with the vision of introducing Video Interviewing to mainstream recruitment, Ed has established the organisation as a global leader and one of the top recruitment SaaS companies worldwide.

With numerous accolades to his name such as the Sunday Business Posts ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and IIA Net Visionary award for innovation, Ed is recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in video recruitment technology and is a renowned industry speaker.

With a passion for new technology and how it can be used to make life easier for people in the real world, Ed has been instrumental in shaping the current landscape of the Video Interviewing industry.
Chris Horan
CTO at Sonru
Chris graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics and Computer Science and went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science in Physics and Computer Science as well as a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development.

With almost 20 years’ experience in the software engineering and computer science space, Chris has worked with leading technology companies such as Accuris, CAPE Technologies and BearingPoint.

Chris has been at the forefront of Sonru’s product development since the company’s inception in 2007.
Daniel Richard
Managing Director EMEA
Sonru’s Europe MD, Daniel Richard, graduated from Queen’s University, Canada with a Master of Science in Industrial and Organisational Science.

A trained Occupational Psychologist with more than 15 years of sales and consulting experience in multinational recruitment and HR services companies, Daniel leads Sonru’s sales efforts within EMEA, helping to grow its rapidly expanding customer base.

Prior to joining Sonru, Daniel spent 10 years at Oracle Taleo helping to build the company from a small regional start-up to a true industry leader. Daniel has held a variety of sales and consulting positions on various continents, including the US and Europe.
Fergal O'Byrne
Non-Executive Director
Fergal holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering from Dublin Institute of Technology and is an experienced Internet industry entrepreneur.

Since founding Interactive Return in 1998, Fergal has been a member of the Board of Directors of, WINC, and CCD Limited and was a previous chair of the Project Advisory Group for Fáilte Ireland’s eBusiness Support Initiative.

A recognised influencer within the industry, Fergal has served as CEO of the Irish Internet Association and has published four books including ‘10 Online Marketing and Search Engine Essentials’ and ‘10 Technologies Every Executive Should Know’.

In 2015, Fergal was inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
George Pennock
George holds an MA in History from Oxford University and is a previous Partner and Head of Saphir UK at Saphir Capital Partners.

George spent several years with the Goldman Sachs Group as a mergers and acquisitions banker before moving into private equity where he has spent most of the past 15 years. He has served as a Senior Investment Manager and COO at Pi Capital, and worked with Botts & Company Ltd where he made private equity investments in the leisure, publishing, branded goods, retail, and technology sectors.

Having spent the past two decades working with a myriad of talented and unconventional entrepreneurs, investing in everything from online employee benefits platforms to river boats and book publishers, George is passionate about backing exceptional people and interesting businesses and believes that while a mediocre management team can ruin even a great plan, a great management team can make a success of almost any business opportunity.
John Penning
Currently, I am a Director of Sonru, the leading Online Video Interviewing company. Previous career highlights include; CEO of the Irish Internet Association, Chairman of and Founder and CEO of Interactive Return. In 2015 I was very honoured to be inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
Rodolphe Verhaegen
Non-Executive Director
Rodolphe is currently an Operational Advisor with Digital Ventures in Brussels having previously worked in Ebay, most recently as Director of Customer Innovation.

Rodolphe is an innovative and creative business leader, with a strong interest in technology and agile software development practices. He holds an Masters Degree in Business Information Management and a BA in Business Economics from the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels.
Georges Schmit
Non-Executive Director
A native of Luxembourg, Georges graduated with degrees in Economics from the University of Louvain, Belgium (BA) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MA). Besides his native Luxembourgish, Georges is fluent in French, English and German.

Georges served the Government of Luxembourg from 1981 to 2016 and throughout most of his career he focused on innovation and technology policy, economic development and trade and investment promotion.

During his time with the Government of Luxembourg, Georges served as Secretary General of the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and was a member of several European Union high-level advisory bodies including the European Commission's "Enterprise Policy Group”. He also served as both Vice-Chairman and Executive Chairman of the National Credit and Investment Corporation (SNCI) of Luxembourg.

Georges has served on the Board of Directors of both listed and private companies including the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based global satellite operator SES, the Luxembourg Post and Telecommunications Company, and the Luxembourg State and Savings Bank, among others. Most recently, he contributed to the design and launch of several major Luxembourg Government innovation policy initiatives and sits on the Luxembourg Government’s Advisory Board on Space Resources.
Daria Polunina
Non-Executive Director
A director at Saphir Capital Partners, Daria holds a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management from the University of Essex as well as a MSc in Finance from Cass Business School. Daria also sits on the board of Molinare and Wine Source Group.

Patrick Sweeney
Non-Executive Director
Patrick holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree in Accounting, Management, Human Resources, Marketing and Economics from University of Limerick as well as Masters of Education in Management, Human Resources and Training and Development from University of Sheffield.

For 25 years, Patrick held the position of Human Resources and Public Affairs Director for Aughinish Alumina where he was involved in change management, restructuring and international mergers and acquisitions.

Patrick also undertook many other leadership roles including operations management, training and development and employee relations management. In addition to sitting on the Board of Directors at Sonru since 2011, Patrick has operated his own strategic management and human resources consultancy firm for the past 8 years.