10 (unexpected) things you should do before interviewing with a startup founder

If you’re good enough to get the job you’ll already have the expected preparation done, naturally. This not-so-expected prep, deployed deftly and gracefully during your interview, will give you an advantage over the competition.

***disclaimer*** It’s going to feel more-than-a-little-bit like stalking. If you find yourself rooting through bins, you’ve gone too far. Way too far.

The research should take you 1-2 hours: write notes. The aim is not to show off how much research you’ve done, it’s to give you ways to connect in the 7 minutes the founder is listening (the other 53 minutes he or she will be transfixed by the typo in your CV, or running over the Series B strategy) Keep it natural – bring up things you have in common in your answers, where appropriate.

  1. What have they last posted on Quora?  Their answers will tell you a lot about them.
  2. How do they comes across on their Facebook / Instagram profile? (Don’t friend them yet, duh.)
  3. Look through their past 12 months of Tweets (any political, causes, bugbears, humour?)
  4. Have you read their Linkedin profile and learnt it backwards? (What university were they at? Sidenote: if they don't have 200+ contacts, that’s a red flag.)
  5. Which shared contacts / mutual friends do you have on Linkedin or Facebook?
  6. Are they on Airbnb, Strava or Couchsurfer* (*Credit: Willem Wijnans at Improbable.io)? Couchsurfer gives you an indication they are community minded
    [Use a boolean search string e.g site:strava.com  “founder name”]
  7. Download www.crystalknows.com (Chrome extension) and discover what type of character you are meeting
  8. Have they been to Burning Man? (Clue: Facebook photos or Instagram) Not a bad topic to get onto, but only bring it up if you have actually been.
  9. What sport and activities are they into?
  10. Understand the metrics / KPI’s and drivers of the business – if you can’t clearly define these, find out beforehand by asking someone closer to the business.

And a few bonus ones….

  1. Be able to elevator pitch the company and the products
  2. Check if the founder has done any interviews on Youtube or podcasts.  Emulate the language and phrases they use e.g “We see ourselves as…”  - that’s how the founders want you to communicate the company and if you get the job after 2 months you will be communicating in these phrases
  3. Find someone who has done the interview process and ask them what their experience is – post in a few startup forums – if the founder sees he will be impressed you are preparing

Alex van Klaveren

Kandidate, 73 Grafton Rd, Flat 3, London, NW5 4BB, United Kingdom