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What should I ask an early start up during the interview?

teresaman's profile thumbnail
Hey anon!Some questions I could think of:- how are you thinking about diversity in your team? What does diversity mean to you?- what hesitations do you have towards me? (they may point out that you don't have any startup experience, to which you can think of a strong counterpoint to their answer — in any case, this could help clear out any concerns)- how has the company been during the pandemic from a revenue, productivity, team growth standpoint? We also have another thread about the same topic here that may be helpful: https://elpha.com/posts/w25ywxt8/interview-questions-to-ask-a-startup
AlyssaM's profile thumbnail
Hi Sherrie- First off, congrats on being approached about a role! It's terrific that a potential employer sees your value right off the bat.Early stage startups -are- different. Lots of unknowns and ambiguity. But with that, there's a lot of room to take ownership, learn on the job, grow with the company, maybe get a "stretch" title. I often use this article to clarify what startups think they need related to marketing: https://firstround.com/review/so-you-think-youre-ready-to-hire-a-marketer-read-this-first/The questions posed in the article are good to ask your potential employer. Few people are highly skilled at all of the "essential marketing activities," so knowing your strengths and where you want to play is useful- especially as you help define what you want in a role. Salary and benefits will likely be very different than an established company. Check out https://angel.co/jobs# and ask other Elphas their take on a fair salary & equity for your role and level if the job is right for you. Likelihood of success is hard to determine. I ask a lot of questions about ideal customer profile, how the team determined product market fit, and think hard about if I believe that there's really a market for what the company is selling. Work/life balance and culture are evolving at seed stage. Do you think the leaders are decent people? Do you see them as someone you want to work with and follow? You are trusting them to pay your salary and make good decisions for the business. Good luck with your interview and exploring the opportunity!
jillianward's profile thumbnail
I like to ask about their commercial strategy, their product roadmap, and their financials (e.g. runway, ARR, LTV/CAC ratio). For likelihood of success you may want to ask about client churn and product - market fit. For culture you could ask about employee turnover or reach out to a peer on LinkedIn for a friendly chat once you get the offer. Also check out Glassdoor for employee reviews on culture and work/life balance. Without start-up experience, make sure to play up your flexibility / adaptability, roll up your sleeves attitude, etc. Start-ups don't have as much process as larger companies and you have to figure things out as you go. There will likely be a lot more autonomy and less structure. Perhaps you worked on small teams within the large companies or volunteered outside of work for experiences you can highlight in the interview process that has exemplifies that entrepreneurial spirit (e.g. a time when you identified the problem, came up with the solution, and executed the solution in an agile way).
alexakaypr's profile thumbnail
+1 to asking about overall strategy and product roadmap (you want to make sure you like/agree with where the company is headed) and financials (you don't want to find yourself looking for a job in 3-6 months b/c they ran out of funding!)Jillian's advice is perfectly in line with the approach that an interview is a two-way street; don't forget, you are interviewing them too! (Obviously, I agree with this approach.)I would definitely ask about opportunities for growth/expand the role for which you are applying, as startups really depend on early employees to be self-starters and bootstrap their way into bigger roles. If you like grey areas for how your job can grow/expand (with the understanding that you may have a completely different job at the end of a year than what you started), then startups are going to maximize your potential. That being said, culture is key to making sure 1) you feel comfortable asking for more, and 2) your manager/leadership encourages "can do" attitudes like that.
DianePrince's profile thumbnail
The goal of the first interview is to get a second interview. I would ask what success would look like for this role. The first interview is not about asking the company about their likelihood of success or work/life balance. Every startup thinks they're going to make it and they need everyone on the team to believe that too. You can assume that there's no work/life balance unless they talk about it as a perk Ask what the company goals are for 2021, what would make them feel like you were the best hire they could have possibly made for this role, if this is a new position or you're replacing someone else. I like "what hesitations do you have about me?" as your final question.context: I've been in recruitment since 1996 and have been responsible for thousands of hires
lauraglu's profile thumbnail
+1 to all of this, however it is reasonable to consider the 2-3 things that are deal-breakers for you, and to broach those topics to see if you want a second interview if offered. Nobody else can tell you what those are; it could be health insurance, diversity, tech stack, customer base, transparency of leadership, etc. etc.
racheldhorowitz's profile thumbnail
Hey Sherrie --Agree with all of the advice above! At a high level, I'd bucket questions into company / business, role and people / culture. First Round has a really great list of questions covering all three here:https://firstround.com/review/the-40-best-questions-to-ask-in-an-interview-how-to-go-deeper-than-whats-the-culture-like/
priya1's profile thumbnail
Hey anon, congrats on being approached! That's always nice. Early stage startups are a different beast from more mature companies when it comes to hiring. If there's no JD, I'd approach the conversation as a co-creation exercise for coming up with the role you'll potentially be taking up. Understand the organization, their unique approach to the problem they're solving, who is backing them, and what their main goals and challenges look like coming out of the seed round and heading toward Series A. There are three steps to doing this:1. First I'd learn everything you can about the problem they're solving, and how the founder is going about doing it by drawing an org chart using every employee that's listed on linkedin or company website. This'll give you a really good sense of the org inside out, and how the founders are approaching execution. 2. Then I'd then use the background in the actual conversation to understand the revenue specific goals, and the role marketing will play in this. Again, just keep focusing on understanding what needs to be done, and while supplying your own intuition on how that can be done well. 3. Lastly, just keep listening for pain through these conversations. The role will likely be focused on iterative problem solving, so I'd to try to arrive at overarching goals rather than specific inputs. Odds are if they contacted you, they're looking for someone with your experience, who can also understand the context they're operating in. Bringing this energy, intuition, and focus to your conversations will help you both learn the organization and team inside out, as well as demonstrate your capabilities. Then the ball is in your court to decide if the role is the right one for you. Best of luck!