A startup job is an exciting but risky proposition. After all, with 90% of StartUps estimated to fail, there’s a good chance you could be back on the job market sooner than you expected.
Which is why it’s vital to be convinced about both the vision and viability of a startup before getting on board. The interview stage provides a great platform for this, where, even as the interviewer evaluates you for the position, you too get the chance to probe deeper and satisfy your doubts.
Below are five questions you should ask a potential employer during any startup interview.
Their answers will give you an insight into the company and equip you with information to take informed decisions about whether or not to join the organisation.
1. What are your growth numbers?
Growth can be measured in several ways—overall sales, number of employees, turnover and market share. Since companies at the start-up stage are likely to not yet make profits, growth becomes a key indicator of their health. It can tell you about company performance, management efficiency, financial viability and the actual demand for the product in the market. A positive growth rate can be interpreted as a sign to go ahead and explore the job opportunity further.
2. Where do you see the company 5/10 years from now?
Usually posed to candidates during job interviews, this question can be employed efficiently during your own interaction with the employers to understand the general direction the company is likely to take. The answer will give you a glimpse into the organisation’s vision for the future. Are they in the business for the long haul or are they hoping to be acquired? How do they see their product faring in the long term? Will there still be a role for you as the company starts to expand? The management’s vision for the future could hold clues to such vital questions.
3. What do you see as your biggest threat(s)?
Does the company have the finances to sustain itself for a few years? What do they see as the main impediments to their growth? Posing this question has a twofold advantage. First, it will tell you something about the stability of the company, uncovering the red flags you should be aware of. Second, it will indicate the likely the focus of the management, which in turn will determine company culture.
4. What duties and responsibilities will my first three months at the job entail?
Now that you’ve satisfied yourself about the viability of the company, it’s time to focus on the brass tacks. Asking about your role and responsibilities will give you an idea of what you’re signing up for. Of course, startups are dynamic environments where job roles are fluid. Nevertheless, even a vague idea of what to expect can only help the decision-making process.
5. What skills will help me excel at my job?
If you’ve been called for the interview, the employers have obviously decided that you possess the basic qualifications. But to excel at a startup, where job roles often tend to overlap, you may need to have skills that are beyond your traditional domain. For example, if you are a software engineer, you may also be called upon to pitch the product to customers since startups are typically short on manpower, and because, under the circumstances, you make for a sensible choice since you understand the product best. This means need to have good persuasion skills in addition to the usual technical skills to excel at the job.
An understanding of the skills that are required to help you excel at the job puts at your disposal greater information to make a rational decision.
Asking the right questions at the interview stage will not only equip you with the information to make the best decision for you, but also demonstrate to the employers that you’re a serious candidate for the job. So don’t hold back from asking relevant questions at the interview. If the employers genuinely believe in their mission, they will appreciate your questions. If it ends up upsetting them, it’s for you to ponder why perfectly logical questions have ended up offending them!
Put these questions to test at your next startup interview. Find StartUp Jobs here.