The Trick To Getting A Job At A Hot Startup
Q: What's one interview tip you have for a job seeker who is looking to work at an entrepreneurial startup?
Demonstrate how you pivot
"Entrepreneurs like to move quickly, so offer examples that show your flexibility. You can't be afraid to fail in a startup, so demonstrate how you've implemented, tested, failed, pivoted and improved in the past, and you'll stand far above other candidates."
- Kelly Azevedo | Founder, She's Got Systems
Fill the table with ideas
"When hiring, we don't just want someone who will be competent at the particular job we're hiring for, but someone who is going to bring fresh, creative ideas to the role and think critically about our business. When interviewing, it's important to come with ideas you have for how to improve the business so that they know that you're an innovator."
- Stephanie Kaplan | Co-Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Her Campus Media
Show your startup passion
"Startups want to hire someone who loves the product and is a great fit for their team and culture. Do your homework on the startup and the founders before your interview, and discuss why you would be great fit and why you believe in their product. Most importantly, you'll likely be working longer hours for a smaller salary, so be honest with yourself about whether that belief is genuine."
- Doug Bend | Founder/Small Business & Startup Attorney, Bend Law Group, PC
"Most entrepreneurs have very defined BS detectors. If you're asked a question and you don't know the answer, say, "That's a great question, I don't know, but I'd be happy to research it and get you the answer." Don't make something up! It's the fastest way to get passed over in my company."
- Nathan Lustig | cofounder, Entrustet
Bring strategic questions
"A job seeker should do enough research on a startup to know that business and have great questions to ask about how that business operates. Ideally, the job seeker could even make suggestions about what the startup can be doing to succeed more. Whether those ideas are something the founders never thought of doesn't matter, because it shows that person understands the business."
- Victor Wong | CEO, PaperG
Show off some initiative
"Entrepreneurs and young startups hire for the "ability to get stuff done" -- with a minimum of hand holding, supervision or instruction. Demonstrate this skill. Do lots of homework before your interview, and be willing to do a small project to show your abilities if you make the candidate shortlist."
- Matt Mickiewicz | Co-Founder, Flippa and 99designs
Polish your portfolio
"Portfolios aren't just for creatives anymore. When I'm hiring someone, I want to see examples of their work in action. That could be a series of planning documents for projects, bullet points of savings you created for a past employer or something else entirely. Show me what you've accomplished in similar positions in the past."
- Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting
Make an impression beforehand
"Show the startup what you've got beforehand. A great way to make an impression before the interview is by tweeting the startup, writing on their Wall, etc. Make sure you stand out!"
- Ben Lang | Founder, EpicLaunch
A unique personality matters
"Show your personality. Obviously, entrepreneurs are looking for skills and qualifications, but startups are usually close-knit teams that need to work well together (for long hours), so knowing that the candidate will fit in is very important."
- Nicolas Gremion | CEO, Free-Ebooks.net
"A job seeker should have as many materials (resume, portfolio, etc.) as possible upon arrival to a phone, in-person, or virtual interview. Traditionally, resumes would include "Available Upon Request" for references, but have previous employers and teammates leave you a review on LinkedIn. Then, copy and paste these reviews and bring them to your interviews to give the interviewer insight."
- Nancy T. Nguyen | President & CEO, YMH, Inc.
In it for the long haul
"Make sure you explain that you're not in it for the immediate payoff. That will show dedication and an alignment of interests."
- Brent Beshore | Owner/CEO, AdVentures
Can you solve the problem?
"Startups are usually small teams faced with big problems. Demonstrate how you are a scrappy problem solver who can think of creative solutions to any problem thrown your way."
- Tim Jahn | Co-Founder, matchist
Be a believer
"If you're interviewing at a startup, you're likely speaking to the person who has poured their entire life into the company. Show them that you believe in their vision and are equally committed to making it happen by doing your homework, asking them smart questions and congratulating them on whatever success they have achieved to date."
- Christopher Kelly | Co-Founder, Principal, Sentry Conference Centers
Learn everything you can
"Most startups today have a Twitter account, Facebook Page, website, YouTube account, etc., so use all of these resources to your advantage! Soak up as much information as you can prior to the interview to really "wow" them with your knowledge. It also helps in understanding your fit at the organization and determining if it's the right next step for you."
- Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended
Cut the cliche
"Strong record, results-driven, fast learner? Please stop the buzz words. Instead, be unique -- explain why you really like what the company is working on, and touch on how you could contribute to it."
- Christian Springub | CEO and co-founder, Jimdo
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