8 questions startup founders should ask before hiring someone


While recruiting for a large company, the questions stick to a known format – technical, interpersonal and soft skills, and educational qualifications – but startup recruitment is a tad different from large companies. Every individual adds significant amount of character to the small team, and picking the right person becomes more important than ever.

After talking to a bunch of growth-stage Indian startups, which have done this recruitment drill ‘oh-so-many-times’, here are a few questions that stand out as the ones that must be added to your existing set of interview questions.

  1. Why do you want to work for us? How do your goals align with what we are doing?
  2. This is a great question to test if the candidate has done his/her homework about your company.
  3. What is your dream job?This question will help eliminate people who have job aspirations that can only be fulfilled in large corporate management roles.
  4. At a startup, everyone here does everything, would you be comfortable handling responsibilities outside of your job description? Would you go the extra mile?
  5. This question will help you understand how flexible the candidate is, and also how keen he/she is to get the job.
  6. What do you think you'll like about this job? What would make you stick with us for next 2-3 years?
  7. This question will help you chart out the growth plan for this candidate.
  8. Do you have ambitions of starting a company, or an idea you’d like to work on?If the candidate has an idea, and wants to build on it someday, probe deeper into it. You might be able to tweak it a little and jointly build something for your company. Win-win situation.
  9. Give me an instance of a time you managed a challenging project? How did you address the problem and generate the solution?
  10. This question will help you assess how reliable this candidate will be in challenging times.
  11. What is the worst thing that happened to you as an employee?This question will help you see how emotional the person is, and if he/she is experienced enough to handle bad news.
  12. What do you like to do outside of work? Any particular hobby? 

This question should be the last question, so that you see the candidate without his guard on. It will help you know if you can have an interesting conversation outside of work with this candidate.

If you think we’ve missed an important question, feel free to add them in our comments section below.


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