Written by Minna Wollocombe
Tempted by a fast-paced work culture, quick growth opportunities, and a potential future payout? Wondering what it takes to land a job in a start-up? We’re sharing some top tips to guide you on what startups tend to look for when hiring:
Adaptability: Working in a startup involves rapidly changing priorities and responsibilities. Candidates should be able to demonstrate flexibility and a practical attitude towards change. Particularly though, tolerance of ambiguity in the workplace is important: bearing in mind how unpredictable the startup world can be, a willingness to throw yourself into an industry that can either boom or bust is vital.
Mission buy-in: Perhaps more so than well established companies, startups want to see commitment to their product or service and overall goals. This is because an early stage founder has thrown their life and usually a large sum of their own money to get the business to where it is before they begin recruiting. Whoever joins needs to believe in the product or service, leadership and business in order to be able to make a quality contribution to the end goal. So, showing passion and advocacy for these goals will help you to provide an informed approach from the beginning, and will make for a more attractive candidate.
An entrepreneurial mindset: Keeping an open mind and having the ability to think on the spot is crucial in the fast paced and dynamic environment which characterises startups. Being resourceful and innovative is important in light of this, as jobs are often variable and subject to change depending on shifting and uncertain industry dynamics. Thinking about past experiences which can prove this is helpful, as interviewers will look for someone who can add value, and generally help to build and grow the company.
Doing the research: Thinking about what the company’s funding structure looks like and how they intend to reach profitability is another good tip for candidates. Considering potential competition from other startups as well as what specific gap in the market the company is going to fill is also useful as it can help to reinforce commitment and passion towards the company’s mission.
Ability to learn fast: Being curious and appreciating that the return on learning when working for a startup is much higher than in other jobs. Again, this shows that the candidate is motivated by factors other than just cash. Thinking about what questions to ask in an interview in order to dig deeply into what the company does, how they do it, and what they’re looking for is a good way of showing this curiosity and enthusiasm from the beginning.
Humility: Recognising that working in a startup often involves carrying out tasks which are not necessarily ‘glamorous’, but understanding that it can be all hands on deck at some points. The upside of this is being able to take on more responsibility and have a greater impact than in other companies. Showing an appreciation of the value of collaboration and mutual support in these times will help a candidate to stand out.
An understanding of the market: This is helpful when it comes to finding innovative solutions and considering the long term aims of the company, as well as the potential challenges it might face along the way. It also helps to demonstrate enthusiasm for the sector in general, as well as showcasing what qualities the candidate can bring to the role, and how they will act as a valuable and worthwhile asset to the team.
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