We all know how interviews work, right? You don a suit, employ a firm handshake, give some stock answers, feign enjoyment through a horrible assessment centre, tick some boxes and voilá, you’re hired! Who could get enough of it?
I’m sorry to report to all of you fans of uncomfortable suits that due to the growing number of tech startups, interview processes have changed a little. Interviews have never been easy and the uncertain territory left by this shift in norms means that what you can expect is a little different. So what’s changed, aside from the addition of the secret handshake*?
Speedy Hiring Process
Expect startups to want you to start pretty pronto. They’re working at breakneck speed trying to get their product ready/launched/growing and they need someone who can just jump in and keep up the pace. You probably won’t be waiting very long to hear from them if they’re interested, and you should expect to have to be available for interview quite soon. Even if you have to relocate for the job, you’ll probably need to be able to up sticks quite quickly. They just won’t have time to wait for three months while you finish out your contract.
Casual Approach but Serious Work
The CEO might interview you in a t-shirt, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they take their work casually. These people are usually top of their game, and have often left high-powered, high-paying jobs in order to follow their brainchild. You need to believe in their vision as much as they do. That doesn’t mean you can’t comment on how things could change and grow, but don’t go in and trash their idea. Honesty is appreciated, but make any criticism constructive.
It’s not unusual to be given a couple of test days in the office, or to have to complete a project to show that you’ve got the chops. These don’t have to be perfect, as you’ll have a limited amount of time to complete them, but you should show that you’ve thought deeply about it, and you should be able to back up any assertions or concepts.
Meeting the Team
Startup companies are small and have petite little teams to match. For that reason, if you’re a likely contender you might be brought into the office to see how you get on with the team. It’s not a test as such so don’t worry about it. It’s just to see if you can bounce off the people you’d be spending your days with. Maybe stay away from off-colour jokes but other than that, just be yourself.
So that’s it. Things are a little different, and perhaps a bit more personal than regular corporate interviews. Always relax and be authentic, but expect to have to show that you’ve got the chops for the job. You may need to show off your skills at short notice.
Don’t forget – you can rock this!
*secret handshake may or may not exist