The Definitive Guide to Interviewing for a Startup

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The Definitive Guide to Interviewing for a Startup

While interviewing with a start-up is very similar to the typical screening and interviewing process with established firms, there are a few notable key differences. These differences include:

  • Unlike established companies with established HR departments or outsource to third-party recruiters, with a startup, you will like the interview with someone high on the organizational hierarchy.
  • While specific skills and competency are important, startups are looking for a good fit, value contribution, outcomes and ascertaining how the applicant will be adding value to the company’s goals and vision.
  • The interview course is on average shorter so the specific focal point is emphasized on achieving outcomes.
  • Interviewing with an established company is most often formal and routine. Startups are less conventional and unstructured.

Preparation Is Vital

Groundwork is important. The key to adequately preparing is structuring a comprehensive plan that does not only center around your own preparation and but will also provide you direction and insight into understanding the startup’s image and brand. A good preparation plan is key to acing the interview. Your plan should guide your preparation with a logical order to cover every probability, much like preparing for a consulting case interview, and should cover topics like::

  • The startups business and operational model
  • Understanding their products and services
  • Their visions and values
  • Knowledge of the Industry/Market and customers
  • Industry benchmarks and core principles
  • Competitors
  • Current trends and news

Give and Take

An interview is not one-sided and is not only about deciding if you are the right fit for the key position. It is, further, an excellent opportunity for you to mutually decide whether the company is the right fit for you. Go well prepared and primed for answering and asking questions. More importantly, think outside the box. Do not grab a few appropriate questions from a published list of common interview questions. Aim to impress. Do not restrict your questions to information openly obtainable but take the opportunity to dig deeper.

When asked a question, do not recite what is already available on your resume. This is an excellent opportunity for you to stand out by highlighting your skills, showcasing your strengths and demonstrating your passion, creativity, and innovation. Come prepared to impress. Utilizing what you know, it is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate how you can introduce value to the startup.

When presented with the opening to ask questions, snatch it up with both hands. Not merely is this an excellent opportunity to demonstrate you took the time and made the effort to prepare. It puts forward another chance to call attention to your skills, knowledge, and passion. Dig deep and do not ask questions about details conveniently obtainable like policies and processes. Ask questions that will engage the interviewer with topics about the market, challenges, goals, and accomplishments.

Skills, Value & Qualities

Working with startups demands commitment, teamwork along with passion. The often unclear lines require an individual at the willingness to take on a new role with the desire to learn. It requires individuals who grow and thrive on creating value and teaming up to driver performance. As is the case with many startups, respecting and valuing diverseness is essential to developing cultural identity. Open-mindedness and acceptance lead to effective teamwork and drives results.

  • Key qualities include:
  • A hunger for success
  • The desire to build up knowledge and skills
  • Perseverance
  • Skills
  • Data Analysis
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Multi-skilled efficiency.

Takeaway Tips

  • Make the time to prepare and acquire all you can about the startup’s history, visions & values, size, culture, etc.
  • Find out who you will be talking to and take the time to get to know your interviewer.
  • This undoubtedly helps your preparation. Also important, get to know all you can about the principal founders, their specialties and creative visions.
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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.