Whether or not we’re hiring, we receive a multitude of inquiries from job seekers looking to work at our education technology startup. We get so many emails that shout: "I absolutely love what you’re doing at Flashnotes—please hire me!"
Although that's flattering, your love for what we do does not necessarily mean you fit the bill to survive in the fast-paced environment of a venture-backed startup.
Running a lean startup with a limited number of team members means our hiring decisions are crucial—undoubtedly more so than if we ran a big, multinational corporation. Our success has a far greater dependency on the individuals within the company, regardless of how amazing our product or service is.
What do you look for in an interviewee to ensure they have what it takes to help your startup past the next funding round?
Here are a few traits to keep an eye out on during the interview process. Be sure your candidates have the following qualities to not only thrive in a startup's demanding environment, but have the potential to take your business to the next level.
The candidate should demonstrate they are flexible enough to take on different roles to address the most urgent need of the company at the time—whether that’s fundraising or a new product launch.
Look for someone who craves a dynamic, all-hands-on-deck atmosphere. Ask them about a time they had to mold into a new role at a moment’s notice, and how they handled the pressure.
A startup needs proactive workers who can dive right in. Look for people who are not afraid to take challenges head on, solve a pressing issue without hesitation, and are able to learn from their mistakes.
Ask them questions that will cause them to think on their feet and improvise—maybe a question you’re still trying to figure out yourself. You want people by your side who can handle the hurdles that will arise along the way.
A candidate who is serious about a position within your company won’t just show interest during an interview. When someone is passionate about a job, they will utilize every resource to express their desire to work for you—whether that be connecting on social media or sending a note of appreciation afterward.
They should take the initiative to check out your background and social presence, and make an attempt to connect on a more personal level during the interview.
During the initial interview, candidates should not be asking about your company’s projected profits, the number of vacation or sick days, or their potential salary. Those types of questions indicate whether or not they are there for the right reasons.
If a candidate instead inquires about company culture, strategic plans for growth, and industry competitors, then that’s a better indication they will be in it for the long run, and will be willing to make sacrifices for your company’s success.
—Mike Matousek is founder and CEO of Flashnotes, the student-to-student study materials marketplace.