2019 started off with a few more feathers in our cap and immense hope in our hearts. The month of January looked promising from day 1 and why not…’coz this year we decided to seek talent for our company directly from the roots!
A recruitment drive was planned and very effectively executed at 4 of Pune’s most prestigious institutions who have been honing skills of students and dishing out some great talent year after year. This experience allowed me to connect deeper with the authorities of these institutions, understand their expectations and evaluate the overall psyche of the students. Apart from being able to pick the potential right talent for our organization, this drive highlighted some very important points that we need to bring under the spotlight for candidates who aspire to work with ‘Startups’ in general
Being a fast growing startup ourselves and over 6 years of expertise into the business model we firmly believe in, we have come a whole circle and to a very strong conclusion “ Startups are a breed of their own” with unique core values subject to the vision of the company and expectations far different from that of a fully established MNC. So while applying for jobs, you have to understand one thing that “What applies at a Large sector company does not necessarily apply in Startups”
Listed below are 10 quick tips to help you crack an interview at a ‘Startup’
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Before your interview, find out more about the company, what it does, the background of the co-founders, their competitors and if possible a little bit about who you will be meeting with. You might even get lucky and know someone who has worked with the company previously who can give you a better picture of “Life at Startup”. Preparation goes beyond the interviewers, though. Get to know the company’s products and get to know them well. Have pointed questions and suggestions written down and ready for discussion. Candidates who do their homework and often give references of the company or its work/ products do get noticed more and do not get lost in the crowd
2. GETTING NOTICED
Once you have your sights set, the first thing to do is get on the radar. Besides hiring through internal references, startups tend to give a lot of weightage to polished resumes and a spark in a candidate’s personality. The best way to get noticed is not just through the front door of the organization. Hop on to LinkedIn and comb through your contacts. There’s a good chance that someone in your extended network is associated with a current employee of the company who can help you get connected to the right person or HR. At times if you feel you are the right fit and can add value to the company, you can directly reach out to the managers and make a lasting impression
3. THE RIGHT ‘FIT’ MATTERS
Startups are for believers. Believers who are here to stay and make a significant impact and turn into achievers. Remember that hiring everyone who applies for an available position is crucial for the success of a company and the wrong fit often stands out like a sore thumb
In startups, the small size of the company and team means closer relationships and a warmer work culture. Not surprisingly, startups are laser-focused on making sure the fit is right. When there are fewer employees every single member really matters. The challenge is that what constitutes fit varies from startup to startup. Some startups celebrate collaboration and autonomy, while others are manically focus on productivity or technical innovation.
And, of course, fit is a also two-way street. It has to be right for you, as well. Find out as much as you can about the culture before you go in. Check out LinkedIn and sniff out info from people in your own network. Read reviews and follow their social media handles to understand the overall culture of the company. Ask pointed questions to managers and individual contributors and see how their answers line up. Don’t compromise any strongly held beliefs and don’t expect the startup to adapt to you either. If the fit is not right, be ready to walk away
4. TO SHOW WHAT IT TAKES
Startups are always on the lookout for people who don’t just do what’s asked of them but who go beyond that, in fact companies are always on the lookout for people who genuinely love what they do and how they experiment with different tools to achieve the same result. While interviewing engineers, my teams always look for people who think out of the box and possess an X factor apart from their skill-set which is a strong trait that the person is willing… willing to change and willing to learn. This is what makes them stand out from the crowd. Demonstrate that you’re more than just a solid contributor and have all-star potential to make all the difference
Startups also value candidates who are focused on finding solutions, rather than on what cannot be done. Express your willingness and eagerness to try new tools, technologies and creative thinking, taking care to build on the ideas of fellow workers rather than tearing them down ‘coz at the end of the day…It’s all about one Dream Team, right?
5. SHINE THROUGHOUT
While you’re digging deep into your network, make sure your LinkedIn profile is crisp, clean and nicely polished. Make sure the resume is much more than just old school and pretty. Make sure to make optimum use of all the latest tools to make a lasting impression. Besides, at some point, the decision maker is going to scrutinize your entire profile looking for someone who can provide an unsolicited reference. So make sure your skills and job history are current and your endorsements are strong.
Lastly, do yourself a favor and Google your own name before the company does (which they will). Make sure your online presence brings out the best of you
6. BE AUTHENTIC
You need to understand that until you receive an official offer letter, you are under a constant scanner. Always have a kind word when referring to your previous employers and managers. Even though your last manager might have indeed been incompetent, you’re not going to earn any brownie points by throwing them under the bus. If you do, you’ll come across as jaded and start raising red flags Always find the positives in your previous gigs and, when pressed about why you are looking for a switch, retain a positive outlook. If the situation warrants it, by all means be candid and real, but don’t be petty. No one would want to have a candidate like that on their team.
7. ADMIT IF YOU DON’T KNOW
During an interview, if there’s a particular skill that you do not have sufficient knowledge about…instead of faking a confidence and falling flat on your face be more vocal about the skills you would like to refine and improve. Possessing a willingness to learn and a strategy to develop those skills will not just benefit you…. It will also benefit the organization too. This humility and personal initiative highlights the strengths of a candidate and his capacity to look within which will help him/her go a long way
8. RESEARCH THE COMPETITORS
Knowing what the company does and research related to its products is important but go an extra mile and do some intense research about the company’s competitors, how they do – what they do and how the company you aspire to join can do it differently. Even a tiny interest towards this can make a huge impact
9. OVER DELIVER
If you are truly interested in joining a particular startup and receive an assignment as homework to be delivered on a particular date… understand that the company actually wants the submission earlier than the given date. Make sure to take that extra effort and over deliver ie: world class work in a shorter span of time. Work like this always stands out from the rest as it exudes commitment and dedication of a candidate. A candidate like this always proves to be an asset to the company
10. BODY LANGUAGE
Always maintain an eye contact and the right posture during an interview. Any slouching or lethargy observed during the interview reflects on the personality of the candidate which may be one of the reasons a candidate may be shown the door. Interviewers always appreciate enthusiasm and eagerness. A lively interaction always stands out and makes a huge impact from others
Above all, the most important thing you can do is find out what the startup uniquely values, ensure it aligns with your own interests, and then demonstrate that you’re the perfect fit. Startup teams tide over hiring decisions heavily. The skills conversation may just take some time however the fit conversation? That one can take hours! So at all times make sure you are the best version of you!
We are always looking for smart, driven, and curious individuals to join our team! For inquiries about open positions please contact Priyanka Mallapur at firstname.lastname@example.org