5 Tips to Nail an Interview at a Startup

Do you dream about working at a startup? Maybe your experience is primarily in the corporate world but you want to give startup life a try. Or perhaps it’s the reverse–you helped build a company from the ground up but now you want a recognizable corporation on your resume.

The interview process for each of these two worlds is exciting, intense, and unique. In a new two-part series, we investigate the differences between interviewing at startups and interviewing in the corporate atmosphere. It’s more than just hoodies versus suits. Today we dive into what you need to know about interviewing at startups so you can confidently go in and ‘wow’ them.

5 Tips to Nail an Interview at a Startup

  1. Don’t be afraid to go for a job you’re not “qualified” for. Here’s what you need to know right out of the gate: if you have passion, drive, and commitment, the sky is really the limit at a startup. Aim high and show those who interview you that they should take a chance on you. “Rules” are more flexible in the startup world.
  2. Education may be helpful, but it’s not a deal breaker. Tim Gosnell, founder and managing director of Virginia startup Double Tap Media said, “We place less of an emphasis on degrees or formal education and look more at aptitude, drive, and a desire to serve our clients…this practice has allowed us to find some really talented team members that if we had required a specific degree in order to be hired, we would have missed out on.”
  3. Be game. At a startup, you’re probably not filling a role on an established team. Yes, you may be bringing in the crux of the digital marketing expertise, but you may be tasked with account management, project management, or working closely with sales. Be ready to be flexible. And articulate this in your interview.
  4. Do your homework. When you interview, show that you are the best candidate by demonstrating that you’ve clocked several hours researching the company, the industry, and the backgrounds of those who interview you. Develop your own take on where the industry is headed and the direction you think the company should be headed.
  5. Do something that will set you apart. Bring competitor analysis in to your interview. Be ready to talk about your vision for the marketing program in one, two, five or even ten years. According to Gosnell, “We can get over 200 applications for one position. If you put together a custom portfolio that mirrors the type of work that we do or you make a video telling us about yourself, you make it to the top of the pile…It shows me that you are driven and that you don’t just want any job, but you want this job. And that means a lot. Practically no one does this sort of thing, so it’s not too difficult to stand out in this way.”

If you are intrinsically motivated, like the idea of being a part of a company from its early days, and are energized by the idea of a malleable, ever-changing organization, joining a startup may be right for you. By getting clarity in advance about what the company needs and what you can uniquely offer, you’ll be poised to impress the hiring managers and snag the job you want.

by McKinley Marketing Partners