How to Succeed in a Startup Job Interview

Job interviews are pretty horrible everywhere and even startups have them. It's just the way things are so buck up! This is how you win the interview!

What’s the difference between a startup interview and a typical job interview? Most importantly you are more likely to get assessed for a different set of skills and in a different way. This is because startup leaders aren’t the kind of employers you would usually meet when applying for a corporate job, you would expect to meet them in a less formal situation.

A startup interview might not be a corporate interview, but you still need to prepare for it properly!

1. Focus on Cultural Fit

people at colour festival

Start-up-ers may not even ask to see your diplomas because they aren’t easily impressed with the number of degrees you hold or years of experience you have. As young self-starters themselves, they realise that although work experience is important, they aren’t going to reject promising candidates who don’t have any. They care about unity more than anything else and recruiting individuals who they regard as the best fit is their top priority. This helps to create a strong team of capable people who can cooperate and work effectively on their own and as part of a group.

Startup leaders want to know who you are and how well will fit in with the rest of the team. You need to be prepared to talk about yourself. Prepare your pitch, and come up with some good and positive adjectives to describe yourself. Think about what you are good at and what you would bring to the company.

2. What Makes You Stand Out

crazy looking girl

Just like any job interview, you have to talk about what sets you apart from other candidates. Think about what your previous colleagues have said about you and made you feel proud of yourself. Also, look back to your most recent achievements. Don’t worry if they don’t come to you at first. This is part of the process, and it happens to everyone. It’s not easy to remember exactly how and what you did it in your previous job, but this kind of information is vital to help employers make a decision. So, don’t be afraid to boast about yourself and skills. Think about a job well-done and prepare to talk about it with employers during the interview.

3. You Can Do More Than One Job


Multitasking is a useful skill for someone who is looking for a job at a startup. Employees are often required to wear multiple ‘hats’ throughout the day. Startups may not be interested so much in productivity rather than effectiveness and quality. Showing employers that ‘you can do whatever they want’ can get you into the game and make you stand out the right way. Apart from multitasking, it would be wise to show that you have excellent time management skills, that you are flexible, and a good listener and communicator. Before the interview, come up with a couple of real-life examples that show evidence of that.

4. You Are a Volunteer


Startup leaders are born to be volunteers. As self-starters they weren’t afraid to go the extra mile and create something for themselves and their companies are proof of that. To get to the position they are now, however, at some point they had to work for free and search for alternative ways to develop professionally. As such, it only makes sense that these go-getters want to hire go-getters. If you manage to show employers that you are just like them – a passionate volunteer, then you are more likely to get the job. Volunteers make excellent startup employees because these people can show they are willing to do what it takes to help the company succeed.

5. You Know Who They Are

young woman in job interview

Most startups start out small, and they aren’t well known in the market. Because of this, their leaders are probably more interested in gaining publicity than hiring employees considering they are already working on a tight budget. Showing that you know the company will not only impress the employers but it will also make them like you and remember you in the long run. Think about it. A guy who wants to work at any startup isn’t going to be as successful as the other guy who already knows who he wants to work for and applies for a job at a startup he really cares about. What I am saying here is that it’s not enough that you want to work for any startup, and excitement alone won’t get you the job.

Before you go to meet employers, make sure you know everything there is to know about them. Find out when the startup formed, get to know their partners and familiarise yourself with the products and the services they are offering. If you can, come up with an idea that can help the company out, but don’t give them the solution to their problems just yet. Simply show them what you can do and leave them wanting more.

6. You Are Tech-Savvy

girl working on computer

A startup doesn’t operate in the same way other traditional businesses do. A startup is supposed to be creative and innovative, and if its leaders want to succeed, they need to hire resourceful individuals who know how to do their jobs effectively. Considering that we live in the digital age, and every company is doing business online, you will have to show that you can make use of modern technology including different computer programs or apps that may be required for the normal operation of the business. Showing that you can use social media effectively is crucial as well, so you might want to encourage them to take a look at your LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Facebook or personal blog if there is anything noteworthy to check out.

Forget what you have learnt about the typical job interview and learn how to prepare for a startup interview the right way. If you want to join a startup, you have to learn what it takes to be a start-up employee. While it’s usually easier to get into a startup, it’s often more demanding to perform in one because you might be expected to do more than you originally agreed. Then again, if you are aware of this, and are still enthusiastic, it is the perfect role for you!

Do you have a startup interview coming up? How are you going to prepare for it? Let me know in the comments section below…