Updated on June 20, 2018
Working for a startup – you’ve just snagged your initial interview with the startup of your dreams, put your best foot forward and met with your interviewer. You’ve thanked them for their time and the interview is over.
You write a thank you note. And a darn good one.
The internet is rife with conflicting opinions on the use of the post-interview thank you note. Though, are we ever surprised when the good people of the interweb disagree? While trying to achieve the next step in our career, we can’t expect a recruiter who hires 1000 people per year to respond in the same way a startup founder looking for their next great hire would. While certain advice spans both the traditional and non-traditional manners of recruiting and interview etiquette, the one thing that is not in doubt when dreaming about working for a startup – you should send a thank you note.
Why should I send a thank you note after my startup interview?
Whoever is in charge of hiring at the business is almost certainly pushed for time. In early stage stage startups you’re more than likely to be talking directly to the founder, or someone integral to the business – when both time and funds are limited they will need to make sure they get the right person on board as quickly as possible. While you have your interview to discuss your strengths, there are certain behaviours that highlight the attributes that many, if not all, startups look for in potential candidates.
Sending the right thank you note post-interview can go a long way to showing you have those qualities.
1. Hustle and Motivation
Startups need hustlers. Working in a startup is your chance to become a hustler. They need problem solvers that go beyond requirement ticking boxes. Your startup job is looking for someone who will do whatever it takes to reach their goals, and the goals of the business – even better if you do it without being asked.
Take some time after your interview to research any potential challenges/projects that were discussed, and put together a short proposal as to how you would handle them. If you hadn’t already done this before the interview, look at the current challenges the business faces and think of a plan to solve them, even if it’s a first step. Not only does this showcase your desire to work for the specific company, it also shows that you’re motivated, and will take the initiative to solve problems as they arise.
2. Passion and Commitment
Working for a startup is all about being passionate and determined to succeed, not only about your career but about the company you work for and the industry they’re in. Building a successful business from scratch is a gruelling and challenging commitment, and, no matter how skilled you are, if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it just won’t work out. Startups are not your normal 9-5.
Use the thank you note to pick up on points discussed in the interview, and reiterate exactly what it is about the actual business that makes you excited, and what challenges you look forward to facing. Discuss topics and issues specific to that business – anyone can say they are passionate, you can use your thank you note to show it, even after the interview has passed.
3. Fit and Interpersonal Skills
Startups are intense places to work. They tend to have great company culture, however it is also a highly stressful business. The smaller the team the more important that the ‘fit’ be correct – no matter how skilled or knowledgeable you may be, if you don’t fit into the company culture or environment in a way that complements the existing employees you may find your time there very short… if you are hired at all. This includes being empathetic and polite.
Use the post-interview thank you note to show that you both understand the company culture and fit into it. Like this HubSpot guy did – highlight their core values and define how they align with yours. When it comes to interpersonal skills, sending an individual thank you note is a good start (i.e. NO FORM LETTERS!). You’ve shown that you appreciate your interviewer and their time, and that you are well-mannered regardless of the outcome. Build on that good start by ending off on a personal note – mention something non-work related that was discussed in the interview. For example, wish the interviewer luck with their round of golf that weekend, or hope that the family dinner they had planned went well.
Overall, thank you notes are a good idea if working for a startup is your dream. You can also use them as an opportunity to pick up on points you feel were missed in the interview, and to ask any further questions you may have.
Remember, keep your thank you note worthwhile but succinct, personal and professional. It’s your opportunity to stand out among the crowd, to make more of an impact (especially if you’ve had a digital interview), and, apart from that, they are generally a nice thing to do.
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