What is it like to interview for a Startup?

There is always a common misconception that all interviews are the same, everything ranging from big corporations to small startups. However, we have to understand that interviewing for a startup is not merely the same as anything else. I have been in the entrepreneurial world working for a startup called Omega Notes for a year now. Thankfully we take advantage of the facilities of LaunchBox, which is an incubator for startups at Penn State. What I find really fascinating about other CEO’s I have met in this short time is that they interview people based on different criteria. Some of these include how “cool” you are, how passionate you are, how adaptable you are, among other qualifications.

One of the criteria they look for is how interested you are in working on a fast-pace/inconsistent environment. Rather than looking for GPA or extra curricular activities like big corporations do, startups look for passion and dedication on their candidates. In my experience on Omega Notes, one of the question that the CEO asked me was how easy was for me to take changes? This is something crucial in startups because it is an uncertain atmosphere. Therefore, you have to be able to adapt quickly with a positive mindset.

Secondly, the other important aspects startups’ CEO look for candidates in interviews is your contribution to the team. Established companies recruit for people how have specific skills to cover a certain position. However, in the startup world this is not the case since they have limited options of selecting their personnel. Therefore, in the interview you might be asked how much knowledge you have in a range of areas to see how much work you can do. In Omega Notes, I not only cover IT projects, but also some customer development, market research, competitor analysis, among other areas.

Last but not least, interviewing for a startup is more flexible than for a big corporation. For those who have interviewed with these companies, sometimes it might be a little intimidating at first. But for startups, this is not the case. They are more focused on how you can impact the team rather than how expensive your suit can be. When I interviewed for Omega Notes I came business casual, but my boss was actually wearing a casual/regular clothing.