In the last seven months Leadfeeder has exploded from a company of 4 people to a remote international team of 12 employees. It’s been a remarkable period and we’ve faced up to one of our greatest challenges yet: finding and selecting the right talent to join our team.
Sitting across the table from us or at the other end of a Skype call have been our interviewees, sweaty-palmed and usually enthusiastic. And they’ve come in all guises: from sharp talkers with something of a swagger, to more modest hard-workers known for quiet reflection––of the type covered in this seminal TED talk on introversion.
If you’ve attended a job interview at Leadfeeder then you’ll know our aim isn’t to skewer job seekers with fantastically difficult questions, nor will we scream “sell this pen”, which some believe to be one of the most arrogant interview instructions ever invented.
Instead we’re trying to bring the best out of the person who’s up for interview. It’s the same for other startups (mostly) – when arrogance is left out the interview room – and our job interviews tend to be quite relaxed and informal leaving lots of space for your personality to come through.
Despite all this we know that job interviews rank alongside shoe shining for the fun factor, so we’ve compiled a guide to help you to nail your next startup job interview. We want to make it easier for talented people to shine – not fail, so follow this:
1. Don’t: avoid the question.
It's really obvious when you're trying to evade the question and by going off topic in your answer it doesn't mask the fact that you don't have an answer. It just wastes everybody's time and makes it look like you don't really have a clue.
2. Do: give concrete examples.
So your last job title sounded wizardly and all but what did you actually do, what tools did you use, where did you go wrong, what did you learn? Employers are human and as humans we crave stories and experiences we can relate to. Your job title and some jargon doesn't make you believable but stories about your experiences do.
3. Do: try to identify personal weaknesses.
It's critical to be self-aware and self-analytical because it ensures ongoing self-improvement and many peer-researched studies show that we identify more with people whom we think are like ourselves – in other words people who are not perfect. Humans don't trust others who act like they've got it all figured out. Choose a weakness and tell us how you plan to work on it. No one is perfect – we get that, so stop pretending you are.
4. Do: prepare at least one question to ask.
So you're desperate to work for our startup, you've seen us in every tech and startup media under the sun and now you've made it to the interview. You want to work for us and you possess critical thinking skills (we hope). But you don't have one single question for us. Not about working here, not about plans for growth, not about our challenges, nothing. Ask anything. We love talking about our work and surely you're inquisitive enough to want to know something.
5. Do: elaborate on your answers.
We're not here to beast you, to catch you out, to make you look like a fool. We're in a room with you to get as good an idea about you as possible. You know the best way for us to get to know you? Talk. Elaborate. Express yourself. It's a massive mistake to sell yourself short. If you elaborate on your experiences it allows us to find more and more common points and before you know it, we like you and you've got a job offer.
6. Do: make sure you’ve researched your prospective employer.
So… we have a product and you're someone who knows this industry, but you didn't think to try our free product or even ask someone about what it is that we do? We have to ask ourselves why you want to work here so much if you haven't bothered properly researching what it is we offer.
7. Do: have a vision of what you could contribute.
Having a vision and making your role your own is what the modern employer wants in the knowledge industry. We don't want you to be an automaton but someone with ideas and independence. Often employers don't have a clue how you will fit in their organisation, but did you know that you can be the fit just by explaining how you see yourself in your new role?
8. Don’t: lack opinions about the most basic things.
People love a leader, someone with an opinion. In an age of millions of bland voices and identikit wall-to-wall social media, employers (who are human too) love someone with an opinion, someone not afraid to fall on their own sword. It makes you memorable and it can come across as courageous, but most importantly it just shows that you have the critical faculties required to do a job well and express yourself.
If you find startup life compelling, check out our jobs page.
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