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What not to ask in a startup interview – tips from a co-founder

Laxman Papineni
17th Sep 2015
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So, are you planning to join a startup?

A few years ago, it was suicidal to break away from the norm of a blue collared corporate role and be employed with a startup. Thankfully, the question above does not bring out the kind of emotions that once used to be! There are numerous factors responsible for the drift in people’s mindset, but that’s a story for another day.

The need of quality candidates is often a point of discussion within a startup. Being a co-founder and CEO, I have faced it each time I have to recruit a fresh talent for our growing team. Many would agree that these interviews are usually high voltage and enlightening with a smirk here and there, often out of a swanky coffee shop than a closed cubicle.

Despite a sense of informality, there are few questions that are bound to surface. If you are already working for a startup, you’ll know what I mean here. But for those who are looking at jobs at a startup, here’s my quick guide of ‘what not to ask in a startup interview’. Please bear with me and take it all with a pinch of salt!

What’s the salary package like?

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I’m not any Jack Nicholson, but that’s exactly my reaction when it’s the first question being asked.

Here’s a quick tip! Never, ever ask that question in a startup interview. The reason is simple. There’s no definite answer for that. Most co-founders gauge your potential, evaluate you left, right, and centre for months, before making a monetary offer.

It’s only after being thoroughly convinced that they divulge these numbers. In most scenarios it is often less than your expectation. But hey champ, aren’t you getting those stock options? It’s time to cheer up.

What’s my designation?

“You’ll be responsible for growth, strategy, image of the company, etcetera etcetera.” In a nutshell you’ll be a lot more than what you expect. Isn’t it awesome? How’s that for a designation, eh?

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But believe me, if you make the right decision you will never have to ask this question again.

What are the work hours?

If you are joining a startup be prepared to put in those extra hours. Literally translated to – there aren’t any work hours. You work till that last hour counts. You may have to work even when you are back home. Your parents, friends, and family may disown you and you may die (not literally).

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But in the long run, all that counts! Stay put through those gruelling hours and you may well be part of history.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining!

The awesome folks at Buffer put it aptly:

Working at a startup is like trying to build a bike while riding it.

It is quite obvious then that it is not a job, it is a mindset that counts in this ecosystem.

Most co-founders are looking at things which are beyond your resume. A lot of applicants misjudge this equation. If you are able to devote yourself for a supercharged startup environment, growth will follow suit.

What are some questions that you think don’t hold any value while appearing for a start-up interview? Do share your experiences in the comments below!

P.S. We are hiring!

We know it is taxing, but we love this chaos. Are you looking for an awesome work culture, great pay and love the idea of an awesome team? If your answer is a yes, do drop me a line at lax@appvirality.com.

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We are looking for awesome Android and iOS developers! Apply now.

(Image Source: Scoopwhoop.com)

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