Interviewing Employees

What to Ask When Interviewing for a Startup Job

Set yourself apart from other candidates by asking questions which demonstrate your entrepreneurial ambition and drive.

12 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Startup Job

If your interviewing for a startup job, its important to know that your embarking on an entirely different experience from the traditional 9-5 work environment. You have to prepare yourself to work flexible hours, wear many different hats at once, and become an expert on any given subject in a short period of time. Most importantly, you have to demonstrate that your personality and work ethic will fit into the vision and values of the company culture. The best way to so, and to set yourself apart from other candidates, is by asking questions which demonstrate your entrepreneurial ambition and drive. We spoke to various startup founders and asked what questions most impressed them during previous job interviews, here’s what they had to say.

1. Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?

Why does this role matter to the growth of the company? Ask this question to learn whether or not you will be an undercover hero or a high-impact, highly visual team asset. This will help give you additional insight as to how you will be interacting with your teammates, and will allow you to prepare yourself better when you join the company.

~Tim Nichols, ExactDrive

2. What makes this company unique?

What makes this company unique? If the representatives of the company don’t start to talk about purpose and value, don’t go there.

~Mathias Muller, SustainabilityCompass

3. How does your company measure success?

There are many important questions candidates can ask employers in an interview, I believe that the most important question is “How does your company measure success?”. This should be addressed based on your position within the company. There is nothing more demoralizing than being in a company in which your efforts go unrecognized. Also this gives you a clear view on what you need to achieve on your part, at that point you just have to be honest with yourself on whether or not you are able to fulfill those responsibilities.

~Dennis Lutsky, Monitr

4. What Direction Does The Founder Want to Take the Company?

I would try my best to get a good feel for the founder. Is he/she a good person? Are they ruthless? Compassionate? Does he/she care about the team? At the startup stage, its all about the founder and the direction he/she wants to take the company.

~Jim Alvarez, AuctionsByCellular

5. How Can I Add Additional Value?

I know this is what you want a candidate to do on paper, but what can I do to add additional value and go above and beyond to be a long term success?

~David Wachs, Handwrytten

6. Can You Describe the Company Culture?

 I always believe a candidate which enquiries into the culture of a company achieves a good outcome because the answer is polarizing. In today’s world, a companies culture is much more transparent and therefore candidates are able to gain an insight into whether they will be a good fit in any position or role. On the flip side, employers will equally gain the same insight.

~RJ Sturt, TNU

Asking about the company culture. That tells us that candidates really care about having a positive work experience and being part of a larger team.

~Chris Walter, Rokk3r Labs

7. What Are the Values and the Mission of the Company?

Candidates should ask about the values and the mission of the company. What the company and the founders stand for will have a tremendous impact on your experience working there. A company is after all just a collection of people working towards a shared goal.

~Cameron Mclain, ChallengeMeClub

8. How Can I Grow Within the Business?

From the employers perspective, I like to hear “How can I add value” as this shows the the candidate is thinking about the company, and has a good mindset when it comes to the business. Also I want to hear “How can I grow within the business”, candidates that are rising stars, with an appetite for self-improvement are vital to any growing business, you don’t want to leave your employees behind as the business grows.

~Ian Naylor, AppInstitute

9. Why is Working With You Better Than Working at Google/Facebook?

Why is working with you guys better than working at Google/Facebook etc.

Startups are unique, and can offer unique possibilities for learning and growth. Its importance that founders realize this, and draw up a plan that will lead to the best possible outcome for everyone who joins their companies. Being able to articulate this effectively is also important to be able to draw in the top talent which other great workplaces might also be looking for.

~Niraj Rout, Mailflo

10. What Drives Your Company To Go Further?

What drives your company to go further? I think this is important because the candidate should team-up with startups which are aware about what drives them further. By asking this, he will also make the interviewer from the start-up understand that he is not just a piece in the puzzle, understanding in the same time if this vision is clearer for them. You shouldn’t team up with startups which are only following growth, but have a purpose, as well.

~Valentin Radu, Marketizator

11. How Do You Learn and Measure?

How do you learn and measure? For startups to succeed, they must have things in place to measure and learn and be agile enough to pivot based on real data. If a candidate asks about that and there aren’t things in place at the startup, then the candidate would either have the opportunity to help build that or reconsider the opportunity all together.

~Mark Volkmann, MassageBook

12. How Will The Success of my Position Be Measured?

When candidates ask me how the success of their position will be measured, it shows they are confident in their ability to achieve. Interviewees that want to know what a typical day consists of may be better prepared for when times get tough, priorities get rearranged and the hats we typically wear are shuffled based on project.

~Cameron Jonsson, ReachandAcquire

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