In job interviews, how can I ask tactfully about the security of my job as a new hire, especially with the recession, and at start-up/tech companies?

With all the layoffs in the news, on LI, and sayings like "last in, first out", I'm obviously worried about the security of my job as I'm currently job searching. Is it ok to ask about this and how and when should I do so?

MelanieMalott's profile thumbnail
Asking a company how they've handled layoffs in the past and if they've done them in the past could be a good way to ask. I think its also fine to be transparent and say this is a concern you have about the role being in jeopardy and ask as a company what they're doing to prepare to "weather" the storm so to speak. If they don't have a plan, that's probably not a good sign. Best of luck!
emilygiddings's profile thumbnail
Melanie shared a great insight! I'd add that you should feel comfortable and confident asking this! It shows you're a discerning person who thinks things through and is looking for longer-term employment. Both are desirable qualities!
sapanagupta01's profile thumbnail
I have been a hiring manager for last 7 years and have interviewed at least 500+ candidates. One suggestion I have is - do your research about the company prior going for interview. I have worked in enterprise as well as start up level companies and no one has answer for this question. Also it’s not 100% true last in first out. It depends with department is getting affected by the decision.Best of luck for your job search!During the interview ask about the growth in career and the company’s culture
This is a very good thread on the topic: https://twitter.com/rose_w/status/1524005840247689219?s=20&t=kZu-JrYmXak_w9Xe4aQNXQAs a former recruiter, I agree that you should try to understand the basics of the company's business. You can ask about whether they're hitting revenue targets, profits (although Spotify only became profitable in 2022 and Uber is still not profitable but doesn't mean they won't keep hiring), how many customers they have, how much runway do they have (how long the money in the bank can last), and if runway is not much then if and when are they raising next rounds. Ideally ask these questions when you're at later stages of the interview process. Here you have more leverage and you'll get to speak to either leadership or team members that will have a good idea of the answers. If they know the numbers but don't want to tell you then it's probably not a good sign
diane01's profile thumbnail
I fully agree with Sparkle 5 as it demonstrates that you know how to think about the business and shows more sophistication with those types of questions
Krasid's profile thumbnail
All the ladies below have shared great thoughts so far. This is something I've been asking lately in interviews. I've been framing it by explaining that it's important to me that I can make a long-term commitment to the next company I join, and then, and then asking straight up whether they have heard anything/how they feel (something like, "With all the tech layoffs going on, how do you feel about where this company stands?")In the past few weeks as I've started interviewing, I've asked 4 companies in the first round of the interview, & all of them have said there are no problems—then 3/4 of these companies emailed me after the next interview to say they're freezing hiring...So (similar to what @sapanagupta01 said), I'm not sure how helpful asking is and it may be best just to include this in your preliminary research. I've also heard other people recommend asking about the current burn rate in the interview.I don't have any sure answer, but hopefully this helps a little! If you figure out a good strategy here, I'd love to hear (:
Rosi's profile thumbnail
I agree with many of the comments above.What helps with tactics is asking the right person at the company. It can be your boss or work mentor or the HR department. I would also tactfully ask about the process for disclosure, as well as decision making instead of directly asking which can create a weird dynamic.Once you know know how, or ask how it’s possible then you can check in with your boss about priority to the mission, as well as what you can do to improve to be more of an asset towards the mission.These things make you come across as a leader, interested in aligning with company interests not only your own.
sarahmt's profile thumbnail
I don’t think you can ask and get a truthful answer. Instead I would remind them why they hired you. Explain what you have accomplished so far and highlight your dedication to the company and ability to excel at what they hired you for.
sophiefrandolph's profile thumbnail
I love when candidates ask me about this because it shows they understand the risks that come with joining a startup. It's an inherently uncomfortable topic to bring up, but you can approach it with any of the suggestions others gave. Just wanted to chime in that when I'm hiring it is a plus for me when folks ask this type of question.
dflee's profile thumbnail
Hi there, I agree with a lot of what has been said in this thread. I'd definitely want to recommend around late-stage in the process (as in, when you have the offer), asking more about the financials of the company. For start-ups, basic equity questions such 409 valuation, FMV, runway, etc. How they react to or reveal this information to you will tell you a lot about how much they value you as an employee and investor in their business. If they are cagey about these basic things, that would be a red flag. If you're looking for signals BEFORE getting that far into the process, I'd recommend companies that deliberately did not do lay-offs during the worst of COVID, as well as start-ups that have a war-chest of funding (also probably Series C or later). Feel free to message me to chat about this further. Best of luck!