Going for an Interview with a Startup? These questions are what you must ask.

When you are interviewing at an early-stage startup, meeting not only your future boss but also the CEO of the company or other senior leadership is the scenario most likely to happen. While preparing to answer tough questions at this stage in the process is what most job candidates do, there are also a few who are prepared to ask great questions.

You can learn all about the company, its plans, and its potential in ways you couldn’t via sites like TechCrunch or LinkedIn. And the interview will be the most crucial step.

When meeting with a CEO or founder, your objective would be to grasp the overall values, goals and trajectory of the company so that when you get the offer, you can decide if it is a company you want to be a part of.

The following are the four questions every startup interviewee should ask:

1. What is success for the startup?

As a company is growing, its course and possible aftermath will be affected by making endless decisions prior to its growth.

You can never be certain of its future which makes it a point for you to understand the general direction; the founders would want to take the startup to. This will help you reach a decision of whether it is a company you think you will wish to work for right now, a year from now and in five years.


2. What is the biggest hurdle the startup had to go through?

While startup CEOs have faith in their companies, they are also aware of the existence of stumbling blocks they will bump to on the road to success. To understand what the company believes to be its biggest risk can help you evaluate how sure or unsure the future of a company may be.

For example, if a company considers money as the biggest risk, revenue numbers and fundraising will be the CEO’s focus. But if it is product execution, the company culture would most probably be built around the product team.

Whatever it is, knowing what you’re getting into is a good way to go.


3. What are the startup’s future funding options?

This question is probably the most important but is rarely asked. As a potential new employee, the difference in the risk level between a well-funded startup and a nearly bankrupt startup cannot be denied.

When you join in a company with the longer runway, the greater your job security will be (generally). On the other hand, joining during a more pivotal time can help increase your equity stake – but there’s also a possibility that you’ll be back on the job market with valueless stock options in a few months.


4. What is the company’s current growth like?

Joining a startup team, you should receive stock options, which would be an investment on your behalf. But you shouldn’t put in your time and money without understanding a company’s trajectory and without evaluating a company’s potential.

There are a lot of things that should be taken into consideration (e.g., the experience and potential of the management team, the current and projected market size, the team’s customer acquisition strategy), but the company’s growth rate will give you a glimpse at one of the core questions businesses must answer: Is this something that people actually want to use?


Having these four questions ready when founders ask if you have any questions will show you’ve done your homework.


Next read… Is this Love or Money?


Article contributed by Startup Jobs Asia‘s Team.

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