Interviews are a fun way of establishing ground rules, dominion and roles.
In any sort of an interview, the interviewer will try to figure out if you — as a fresh grad — will live up to the requirements of the job.
On the other hand, you will be thinking if spending 40+ hours each week working for the company is going to pay-off.
When you are being interviewed for a startup, the interviewer will be keen to know about the amount of contribution you can make in two days, two months or two years after joining.
The interviewer will also be thinking if you can easily adjust within a small team and if you can form good connections with everyone upon joining.
As a young graduate fresh out of your relevant course, you are probably trying to figure out whether working is going to be fun enough for you to put in long hours for an under-market salary.
You have to gauge if the company is to succeed or not.
Simply put — the decision you make at this moment will decide if you will be job hunting again in the next five months or exploring a plethora of new job offers in five years.
Facing an interview is like performing a balancing act, but there various key elements that can help fresh grads crack their startup interview. Let’s learn about that, shall we?
1. Know the company
Startups don’t have a dedicated HR or recruitment department and they rarely go for recruitment agencies.
In short, startup owners have a simple approach to these interviews.
They love it when they get to interview someone who already has taken some time out, signed up with the product online, and has taken a look at the website. Such an approach allows the startup to know whether the candidate has come prepared and is serious about the job.
Startups don’t like to waste their time interviewing someone who doesn’t know anything about them.
If grads do not conduct their part of the research before the interview, it will reflect poorly on their enthusiasm and quality of preparation.
2. Know the interviewers
When you are in the interview, you have to be aware of the interviewer’s professional background, interests, and experiences.
Make the interview like a healthy conversation rather than a standard, boring and time-consuming interview.
Ask your interviewers’ relevant questions that are based on your background work.
If the interviewer is not the owner of the startup, ask why he or she chose this company what attracted him or her, and what the future looks like?
3. Roleplay with your ideas
Once you are familiar with the startups’ product/service, be ready to act on a situation as if you are already working for them.
- What are the new features you will be excited to build?
- How you will increase user engagement or re-engage the existing ones?
- How can the company increase their conversions?
- How could you improve customer service?
4. Don’t shy away from interviewing back
Most interviewers save time at the end of the meeting to allow you to ask questions.
If you’re interviewing with a founder
Ask about their vision for the company. Ask them how the company defines success or how it plans to get to the vision.
- Do ask more about the company’s business plan,
- funding situation, and
- potential roadblocks.
If you’re talking with someone else
Ask them about their favourite things in the company.
What are the biggest challenges they have faced? What is it like working with the team?
Indulging yourself in such a conversation as a grad will allow you to put a positive impression that you are evaluating the company on a serious scale and you are not here to land the first start job that comes your way.
5. Be honest
Yes, candidates lie in their interviews.
As a grad, you are obviously not going to have advanced-level knowledge yet.
Apart from that, you must be honest about your background to the startup company. Those candidates who lie often forget the fact that company resources are going to be used for verifying the credentials when you leave.
Always be honest about your skills, too. Because once hired and you fail to use that skill in one of the projects, it will reflect badly in your career and CV.
6. Openly discuss your weaknesses
Any startup owner would want the best of the best for their team, yes, but no one is hundred per cent perfect.
They want to hire people that are self-aware. That’s the skill that allows fresh grads to keep learning things.
What your future employers wants is a person that can acknowledge their biggest flaws without any hesitation.
Always back this up with how you plan on offsetting your shortcomings, flaws, and weaknesses.
7. Punch above your weight class
Serial entrepreneur turned VC Mark Suster wrote a solid post a few years ago about why startups should only hire people who want to punch above their weight class.
This is true for the startup world, and beyond.
Sales superstars are not especially gifted or extraordinarily talented, they are ambitious. Their ambition fuels the urge to learn anything that is thrown at them.
This simply means that you should always go for the startups that have put up various technicalities in the resume for a job and once you land that interview, prove them how you will do anything to learn this role.
Facing interviews of any kind and with any size of the company is going to be fierce. As a fresh grad, it is your responsibility to go that extra mile and show these startups that you are in the game and you are serious about it.
Hopefully, the points we discussed above in detail will come in handy when you’re cracking your next startup interview.
Remember to share your thoughts and show how your interests and expertise would lend themselves to the job.
Startups look for people who will dive right in.
As a fresh grad, you need to switch roles as quickly as possible while deciding to apply for a position in a startup.
They require people who can put in their ideas, efforts, and knowledge to push the team forward. So, even if you are working for the love of social media and discover that the business will benefit more from direct sales, then that’s definitely what you should do.
Image Credits: chomnancoffee
e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. Share your honest opinions and expert knowledge by submitting your content here.