Knock That Startup Interview Out of the Park
Are you yearning to get your foot in the door at a fledgling startup but lack the technical expertise because you didn't start writing code at the age of five? Well, there’s no need to fret. Startups need to grow their businesses through sales, which just might be the right place for you.
The question becomes, how do you make yourself attractive to that shiny new startup? What are they looking for in a new hire that might be different than a larger company? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
We know that startup founders have an incredibly high risk tolerance, hence the decision to leave their day jobs, cushy salaries and car allowances to start a company, work around the clock and nearly starve for at least two years. This ideal, however, isn’t consistent when it comes to hiring personnel, because they can’t afford to take a serious risk.
The difficulty is that the startup isn’t generating any substantial revenue and is more than likely scraping by on the cash they have left, putting the money that is spent on new hires at extreme risk. The startup founder mitigates this risk by being extremely diligent in ensuring that a potential hire is as good a fit as possible.
A larger company that is generating more substantial revenues can afford to make a mistake with a new hire. If they end up being the wrong fit, it’s not nearly as big of a deal from a financial standpoint.
The interview. When interviewing for a larger company, you’ll tend to get questions that more revolve around your resume, experience and personality test-like questions that force you to compare yourself to an off-the-wall mythical figure. The startup interview will be much more personal -- it has to be. The founder needs to know who you are as a person and will be much less interested in your college GPA or how many awards you received at your previous corporate gig.
You can expect to get asked about your upbringing and family life, as these play an enormous role in whom you are now as an adult, as well as your work history -- although not necessarily about where you’ve worked but about how long have you been working.
If you’ve been working since you were legally allowed, great, but if you didn’t get your first job until you were 22 years old and have lived off of an allowance from your parents, you’d better come up with a pretty good explanation as to how you appreciate the difficulty that comes with hard work and making money.
Your presentation counts. If you really want the job at the startup, you’ll need to show that you are a self-starter that is motivated and capable of solving your own problems. Both small and large problems occur seemingly by the minute in a startup, and there’s nothing worse than someone who is only capable of identifying problems and relies on someone else to fix them.
It’s also important to illustrate your dedication to the company and it’s long-term vision. As I mentioned before, it’s extremely risky for the company to hire you at such an early stage in its growth. The founder needs to be absolutely certain that you have what it takes to stick it out through what is not always going to be easy times.
You also need to be sure that you’re the right fit. If you are, get ready for the ride of your life.