The UK has the third strongest startup culture in the world – in 2016 650,000 new startups were registered with 205,325 based in London. For anyone looking to work outside the traditional office this presents an abundance of opportunities, but first you have to impress at interview, which can be a different experience at a startup.
After working closely with some of London’s most successful startups (including the founders of Chaser, Funding Options, Facewatch & Square Mile Accounting) here’s some crucial tips to help you succeed at your startup interview.
Prepare for a very different experience
Startup culture can be flexible and informal, which will be reflected in your interview. Expect an honest, indepth chat about who you are and what you can bring to the business. Startups and SMEs sink or swim based on their early hires and culture fit becomes incredibly important when the entire business consists of a small team you’ll be working with everyday. When doing your interview preparation plan to answer questions in ways that showcase your personality as well as experience and technical acumen. If you’re talking about how you solved a problem, discuss why you chose that route or solution as well as what you learnt from it and what you would do in future. In short, don’t be afraid to show your workings.
Interview them back
Interviewing for any role is a two-way street, but this is especially true at a startup interview. Building your career at a startup is a fantastic way to get a hands-on experience, growing your skills and experience in ways and areas that aren’t available in a traditional office, but it’s essential you make sure that this is going to be the company for you. If you’re working with a competent recruiter they will have already made sure that this is somewhere you could fit in but only you can make the final decision, so ask as many questions as you can.
No matter what position you’re interviewing for it will be up to you to define your own role at a startup. As an early hire you may be directly responsible for success in some areas of the business, so don’t be afraid to showcase your ideas for the future. Any ideas you present will show your interviewer that you’re already considering the future of the company while helping you work out if your goals align.
Talentarc’s Matt Stanford explained to an ACA webinar audience with the story of one particularly plucky candidate. “He took a business plan to the interview and presented it to the CEO. It detailed an area of growth that they hadn’t previously considered, but it ended up being a viable market. Needless to say they offered him the position.”
The hands on nature of startups can come to a genuine shock to those that haven’t worked at one before. In a small growing team it’s not possible to say “that’s not my job”. Job roles are more flexible as the organic nature of a startup means that job roles and responsibilities will overlap. Share examples of times you’ve gone above and beyond in your previous roles to demonstrate you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and chip in.
Talentedge partner some of London’s most innovative and successful startups. If you’re looking for work in the startup culture or you’re looking for the perfect talent to grow your team, contact us here.
Have you interviewed for a startup? What did you learn? Share your experience in the comments below.