It is quite a challenge to prepare for a startup interview, but this article will help you out by outlining some startup interview questions you should look forward to.
More than established businesses, startups are searching for dedicated employees who can contribute positively to achieving their growth and expansion goals. As an employee at a startup, you have the potential to shape the company in the initial stages, so employers are cautious about who they hire.
Startup interview questions typically address three areas; whether you are suitable for the role you are applying for, whether you are a good fit with the company’s culture and style, and whether you are genuinely motivated to join the startup.
There is no denying that startup interviews can be pretty challenging, and going in prepared is of tremendous benefit. In addition to preparing yourself mentally, it helps to have an idea about the type of questions you are likely to be asked; going in blind is never a good idea.
Following are some common questions you can expect when giving a startup interview:
Common startup interview questions to anticipate
1. Tell me something about yourself
One of the most popular, yet very tricky, icebreakers used by almost all interviewers is the typical open-ended statement ‘tell me about yourself’; also expect this to be one of the startup interview questions.
As appealing as it might be to you to dive into your life history in response to this statement, don’t. Your interviewer is looking into your ability to present those facts about yourself that sum up why you are a suitable fit for the job.
Interviewers typically ask this type of question to transition to the more technical ones. They expect a natural response that is aimed at marketing your expertise. At this point, they also evaluate your communication skills and ease with the situation.
Here you are expected to present that information – as briefly as possible – which should convince the interviewer to select you over the other applicants.
Of all the startup interview questions, this should be viewed as an opportunity to present information about your education, previous job experience, and any quality or experience relevant to the field you are applying to.
2. What contribution can you make to our startup?
It is important to remember that while your concern is whether the organization can benefit you, the employer is looking for someone who can help them. When you focus solely on how getting hired will give you an opportunity for growth, it is unlikely to interest the interviewer.
This is all the more true for startups because they are in search of employees that can benefit their initiative and facilitate it through the growing phase; their focus is on scaling and expanding.
When it comes to tricky startup interview questions, it is straightforward, so when asked, keep in mind that startups usually search for passion, analytical skills, confidence, intrapreneurship skills, and resilience.
3. Why choose us?
Startup interview questions centered on this theme seek answers that convey how your values and interests align with their corporate culture, why you chose them over others, and why you opted for a startup and not an established corporation.
For any startup, their corporate culture is essential, and they are looking for employees who fit in with this culture.
Corporate culture is more important for startups than established businesses because employees can influence this culture in startups. Your goal should be to communicate that you do fit into this culture.
To answer such startup interview questions, you must first understand why the startup is the right choice. It is a good idea to research the company’s core values before you dive into them. In general, a desire to contribute to their creative idea and avail an opportunity for growth in a culture that matches your own is an adequate response.
4. What would you do in the initial days at work?
Startups, unlike established businesses, don’t expect you to take it slow and fall into an established role with time. They expect you to be an active participant from day one, with new ideas to contribute to the business. This is your time to present the new product ideas you have been thinking about and bring them to reality.
This is also your time to show the interviewer that you are well aware of the role you are applying for and know the responsibilities that come with it. Here you should present your idea about what you would do as an employee and what new contributions you can make.
It is also good to present yourself as open to learning and to seek assistance where needed. For instance, if you believe you need information or resources for a particular idea, say so.
5. Discuss a time when you failed at something
Startups are risky, and startup interview questions address this issue by seeking to understand how comfortable you are with failure or setbacks. As a part of a startup, there will be failures in products, services, features, etc.; you must be comfortable with this to thrive in this environment.
You might have trouble recalling an experience of failure that you can comfortably share but never say that you haven’t ever experienced any failure. Personal or professional, you would have experienced failure at one point or another.
Saying that you haven’t failed suggests that you are uncomfortable talking about setbacks or that you don’t see them as learning opportunities.
6. Discuss the time you disagreed with authority
Startups require creativity and innovation coupled with the courage to stand out. Herd mentality and strict conformity to authority are discouraged. Unlike other established businesses, startups search for people who wish to break the status quo and go with their gut instead.
When responding to this question, be honest about your experience; fabrication will likely be caught. Discuss the nature of the disagreement, whether personal or professional, how the authority responded, and how the situation was resolved. In doing so, you aim to communicate good problem-solving and interpersonal skills
Such startup interview questions explore your ability to deal with conflict with professionalism, civility, and calmness.
It is always risky to go into anything blind, and a startup interview is no exception; as challenging as it can be, having at least some preparation is a must. It can be a tremendous help to know what kind of startup interview questions to expect. Review the common interview questions with a friend or colleague and rehearse your responses. Doing so will help you answer more fluently and also help overcome some of the inevitable interview anxiety.