Working for a startup is either a very risky or an incredibly rewarding career move – depending on whom you ask. However, if you’re driven, passionate and adaptable, working for a startup can be a great way to grow your career.
With a fierce competition for roles, how do you set yourself apart from everyone else in the interview process?
Your interviewer will want to know not just how much you can contribute in 2 months or a year, but how you’ll fit in with the company’s culture. Let me give you some tips from my experience of managing recruitment for a fast growing marketing startup Yieldify.
#1 Do Your Research
You should try to use the product before the first interview, if possible. If it isn’t, make up for it by doing your research. Look at the company’s website, case studies, read news articles. The interviewer will be looking for someone passionate about the product and the company.
#2 Go the Extra Mile
To make yourself stand out, go the extra mile in the interview process:
Show that you’re proactive. How can you bring your natural talents to help out the team? Perhaps you can teach a coding class to non-technical people or offer to train others on a skill they need. Research the company and its employees online, find out what makes them tick and figure out how you can contribute.
Show your passion for the product – you can show you’ve done your research by starting insightful conversation on the company’s blog posts or providing feedback about your experience of using the company product’s or service.
Bring your ideas – be ready to talk about how you’d improve the product in your role, how you’d engage or re-engage users, how you could improve customer service or leads generation? Etc.
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#3 Demonstrate What You’ve Done
Don’t just talk about what your responsibilities – talk about the impact and results. Numbers also impress people so quantify your achievements as much as you can. When talking about your results, use STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when talking about your achievements and projects.
I’ve seen so many candidates fail the interview because they haven’t elaborated enough on their answers or it was difficult to get them to talk in terms of specifics.
#4 Show Intellectual Curiosity and the Ability to Adapt
It takes a certain type of person to thrive in a startup environment. Working for a startup is very different than working for an agency or corporation. You need to have everlasting curiosity, be comfortable with change and have the ability to quickly adapt.
Talk about how you’ve adapted to change in previous job, how you’ve led or started initiatives or projects and how you’ve learnt new skills that helped the team.
#5 Ask Good Questions
If you don’t ask questions the interviewer is likely to assume that you’re not that interested in the role.
If you’re interviewing with a founder or CEO, you can ask about the company long-term plans, how they measure success, what is the funding situation, vision and potential challenges as well.
If you’re talking with someone who you’ll be working in the same team with, you can ask about what they like most and least about the company, and about what it’s like to work for the company.
If you end up getting an offer, you’ll not only have a lot of good insights to consider, but you’ll show the interviewer that you’re seriously evaluating the company yourself.
The bottom line is this: If you can prove you have what it takes to go above and beyond the typical job description, take risks, solve problems and demonstrate drive and curiosity, you’re that much closer from getting your dream job in a fast-rising start-up.
Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach and a headhunter with 11 years of international recruitment experience, gained within global technology/ecommerce corporations like VMware or Expedia and start-ups. Over the last 9 years she’s helped hundreds of people get the jobs they wanted using the unique knowledge gained on the other side of the desk.
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