Anyone who does not admit to having a hiring problem – is either delusional or has no experience in running a team. At Momentum Works, we view hiring very seriously – having been through the downs of having incompetent and irresponsible team members.

It is understandable – especially when most (not all) companies hire due to immediate need for manpower. Too often, companies underestimate their manpower needs, and don’t plan ahead. When they become desparate enough, they back themselves to the corner, and take the person available the soonest – most often, only to regret after.

What do we think companies should do to raise the bar?

Always be looking for candidates

Our CEO has this saying – even if you’re not looking to hire, you should look to connect. There’s wisdom in that. At Momentum Works, we get new applicants on a daily basis – looking for a job or internship. A typical company would respond to say, “we currently have no job openings”, and that’s the end of it.

What could be done, is to at least take a look at the candidate’s profile, and inviting the candidate for a chat. We keep our HR policy open ended (in many ways) – as we do not necessarily have to hire for ourselves. So, if there’s a good candidate we might forward it to our network of partners and companies.

A room filled with the best minds in the industry – all made possible because of our open-minded hiring policies (Disclaimer: not all of them work for MW, but most collaborate with MW)

Surprisingly, keeping an honest and open relationship with all our applicants have actually brought us good results. Many have offered to stay as interns, and some even offer to come work for free in return for being put in charge of projects. That way, we have captured the best minds in the industry – and it makes you wonder, do you really have to pay exhorbitant salaries to have the best people? We’ll let you answer that.

Align interests and motivation

The first thing that often comes to mind for most (if not all) candidates – revolve around salaries and benefits. Who wouldn’t have such thoughts.

While most officer in charge of hiring will try to skip this part, we find it foolish to avoid something so important. Rather than saying “your reporting manager will speak to you about that” – MW takes the honest and direct option by saying outright this is the range the person will be getting, and yes we do it even on the first interview.

MW’s honest approach in employee motivation – we also accept candidates who say, “I’m only staying here until i find another interesting idea” (Disclaimer: They didn’t necessarily said that directly, but many MW interns have found better places and are still in touch with us)

Of course, this conversation can be had during the part where we try to get a sense of the candidate’s motivation and goals. We find that if we’re honest about the potential of the company, and the opportunities that await – the candidate are very open about what they are seeking to accomplish in the next few years.

Give anyone (regardless how good) a trial period

In the final stage of the interview process, employers typically back themselves to the corner by saying – we will review your application and get back to you. Then they will try to make a “coin-flip” on whether or not to hire the candidate.

If there was anything we took away from being the earliest Rocket Internet pioneers in the region, it is to hire on a trial period. Hiring does not need to be a rocket science, nor do you need to be a seer. It’s usually still down to the numbers. The more you interview, the more likely you’d find a suitable candidate.

But, we took this formula and made it better. Often, MW would offer a 2-weeks trial where the candidate would come and work (and be paid a fair wage). During this period, their capabilities are studied, and this is when we make the final decision to sign the full employment contract. There’s no better way to be sure of your candidate – than to see them in action.

Regardless to say, we often load up tonnes of responsibilities onto the candidate to test his/her limit, and capabilities.


Traditionally, hiring has always been a process. The candidate goes through a series of rigorous checks and takes a written test. However, if you are to uncover a diamond in the rough, it takes much, much more. Hiring, can be very human – and so, we’d always encourage our friends, and fellow venture builders to imagine if they were in the candidate’s shoes.

Still, we’re happy to help if you need some deeper analysis into your hiring process. Just hit us up at [email protected]

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].


Previous articleSoutheast Asia – More late-stage money available?
Next articleShanghai Mobile World Congress – Southeast Asia, the next big boom is happening!
He has worn many hats in the past - selling advertising space, banking services, and even trading stocks. In 2013, longing for a change of scenery, he joined Rocket Internet’s (now Alibaba’s) Lazada as a online marketer in Bangkok, where he experienced first hand life in a startup. He never looked back since - landing lead roles at Rocket’s EasyTaxi (Singapore), Rocket’s MEIG (Dubai), and Bamilo (Tehran). After that, he launched (and ran) the Thai venture for one of Singapore’s biggest cross-border ecommerce. Last year, Chong put his expertise to work, helping an SGX-listed company relocate to and run operations in Thailand. Nowadays, he’s just chilling by the countryside.