Question: What's one interview tip you have for a job seeker who is looking to work at an entrepreneurial startup?
Question by: Ashley
Demonstrate How You Pivot
"Entrepreneurs like to move quickly, so offer examples that show your flexibility. You can't be afraid to fail in a startup, so demonstrate how you've implemented, tested, failed, pivoted and improved in the past, and you'll stand far above other candidates."
Fill the Table With Ideas
"When hiring, we don't just want someone who will be competent at the particular job we're hiring for, but someone who is going to bring fresh, creative ideas to the role and think critically about our business. When interviewing, it's important to come with ideas you have for how to improve the business so that they know that you're an innovator."
Show Your Startup Passion
"Startups want to hire someone who loves the product and is a great fit for their team and culture. Do your homework on the startup and the founders before your interview, and discuss why you would be great fit and why you believe in their product. Most importantly, you'll likely be working longer hours for a smaller salary, so be honest with yourself about whether that belief is genuine."
Don't BS It
"Most entrepreneurs have very defined BS detectors. If you're asked a question and you don't know the answer, say, "That's a great question, I don't know, but I'd be happy to research it and get you the answer." Don't make something up! It's the fastest way to get passed over in my company."
Bring Strategic Questions
"A job seeker should do enough research on a startup to know that business and have great questions to ask about how that business operates. Ideally, the job seeker could even make suggestions about what the startup can be doing to succeed more. Whether those ideas are something the founders never thought of doesn't matter, because it shows that person understands the business."
Show Off Some Initiative
"Entrepreneurs and young startups hire for the "ability to get stuff done" -- with a minimum of hand holding, supervision or instruction. Demonstrate this skill. Do lots of homework before your interview, and be willing to do a small project to show your abilities if you make the candidate shortlist."
Polish Your Portfolio
"Portfolios aren't just for creatives anymore. When I'm hiring someone, I want to see examples of their work in action. That could be a series of planning documents for projects, bullet points of savings you created for a past employer or something else entirely. Show me what you've accomplished in similar positions in the past."
A Unique Personality Matters
"Show your personality. Obviously, entrepreneurs are looking for skills and qualifications, but startups are usually close-knit teams that need to work well together (for long hours), so knowing that the candidate will fit in is very important."
Available Upon Arrival
"A job seeker should have as many materials (resume, portfolio, etc.) as possible upon arrival to a phone, in-person, or virtual interview. Traditionally, resumes would include "Available Upon Request" for references, but have previous employers and teammates leave you a review on LinkedIn. Then, copy and paste these reviews and bring them to your interviews to give the interviewer insight."
Be a Believer
"If you're interviewing at a startup, you're likely speaking to the person who has poured their entire life into the company. Show them that you believe in their vision and are equally committed to making it happen by doing your homework, asking them smart questions and congratulating them on whatever success they have achieved to date."
Learn Everything You Can
"Most startups today have a Twitter account, Facebook Page, website, YouTube account, etc., so use all of these resources to your advantage! Soak up as much information as you can prior to the interview to really "wow" them with your knowledge. It also helps in understanding your fit at the organization and determining if it’s the right next step for you."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.