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How to Prepare for a Startup Job Interview

Preparing for a job interview is an exciting and stressful period. One of the more common jobs is working for a startup, especially if you live in London, packed with startups and startup job opportunities. 

As a job seeker, you probably apply for hundreds of roles. Yet, get a spot for an interview. You have to keep in mind some essential points before entering a startup job interview to go as smoothly as possible. Now, keep calm and take notes!

1. Do Your Research

Most startups work in small teams, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to find information. For starters, every company has a website. You may want to reconsider your job application if the startup doesn’t have a website. Something fishy, huh? Jokes aside, the internet and social media are the two premium sources you should start your research on the company.

Checking the website and social media accounts allows you to understand the service or the product. Download the app if they have one and use it. It will help you to prepare some questions to ask during the interview. You may also think of possible solutions to improve their product or service.

Their tone on social media can help you adjust yours during the startup job interview. Some startups may prefer more informal communication, whilst others may not. You can find hints that will help you understand the company culture.

Crunchbase and Index.co are other possible resources for your research. You can get the latest updates on their funding history, acquisitions, and recent developments, such as changes in management and new product launches. These updates may be related to your job.

Last but not least, go to their LinkedIn page and try to find your possible future co-workers, your manager, the founder —or co-founders— of the company. Their work background may provide you with some information you can use in the startup job interview. Also, remember that one of those people may be your interviewee. We will get why this is important later in this article.

2. Think about Your Possible Extra Contributions

Extra contributions have an incredible value in startups, especially if the startup is in its early stages and has a small team. Any additional help will directly impact the growth. For example, you may be applying for a sales position, but your assistance with product development will be priceless. So presenting a skillset —or eagerness to improve your other skills— that will prove you can add extra value during the interview may come in handy to get the job.

Your previous experience and extracurricular activities combined with your research on the company can help you determine which skills to present.

3. Write Down a Few Good Questions

Asking creative questions means that you’re enthusiastic and interested in the job. It also shows that you’re not afraid to challenge your colleagues, even your managers or boss. Fear not! It’s not a bad thing to challenge the boss in most startups. They mostly have a horizontal hierarchy (a.k.a. flat hierarchy or horizontal organisational structure) rather than a vertical structure (a.k.a. tall organisational structure).

Learning the jargon can help you ask good questions. By learning, we don’t mean memorising certain words about their industry and using them in a sentence. Let’s say you’re applying for a job in a tech startup, but the role isn’t a tech role. Ask a couple of questions referring to the jargon. You don’t need to use the exact words, but you have to show that you understand the context and the concepts of what they’re doing.

4. Carefully Read the Job Description and Get Ready for a Test

take notes

Sometimes interviewers may want to test your skills that are relevant to the job. Read the job description carefully and understand the role’s requirements thoroughly. The company may want to see some of your skills in action if you apply for a more technical position.

You don’t have to perform perfectly. Most of the time, the assessments are to see how creative you’re in problem-solving and how good you’re at identifying the challenges.

5. Practice Your Answers

The questions of each interview may vary, but some questions never change. Think about a few alternative ways to answer the common questions in startup job interviews. Your answer’s variations depend on the industry, company culture, even the size of the team. Assuming you get a question about leading a project, you can honestly tell that you have no experience leading a large crew if the project requires any —if that’s the case.

You can download our 28-day action plan if you want to learn the most common questions in startup job interviews.

6. Take Note of Your Outstanding Traits

Your strengths don’t have to be directly related to the job at the startup. However, you need to connect in a way that presents your traits will be invaluable.

You may not get a question to tell about your strong personality traits. So you can introduce them in your answer to the most classical “tell us about yourself” question. For a better response, show your qualities rather than telling “I’m like this” or “I’m like that.” Put your talents on display where your features helped you achieve success in a story. Give them something relatable rather than bragging about yourself.

7. Learn Who You Will Be Interviewing

Most of the startups neither have an HR department nor an HR specialist. So there’s a probability of interviewing with the CEO & Founder, and it’s not a small one. If the interview is not with the founder, it will be with one —or more— of your possible future teammates or managers.

Don’t hesitate to ask who is your interviewee; there’s nothing wrong with it. You may even add that it’s for preparing for the interview better. Trust us; startups like it!

8. Understand Company’s Goals

Each startup journey is unique, and the focus is on different things in different stages. Learn if they’re working on an MVP, accelerating growth, getting ready for a funding series, bootstrapping, launching a new product, or something else entirely. So you may think of the possible ways of contributing to their goals with your know-how. Also, you may have a better understanding of why they need you and the requirements in the job description.

Think and prepare thoroughly for your startup job interview and try to hit the bullseye with your answers.

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