How to Get Hired at a Startup

Put forth your go-getter attitude right from the beginning to show that you've got what it takes for the startup life.

Now that you've decided to apply for a job at a startup, here are a few tips that can help you to get hired.

Start with a warm introduction

This means before applying for the job, try to look for someone within your network who can introduce you to the startup, and maybe even give you a recommendation. A warm introduction helps you in two ways:

  1. The startup is contacted directly by someone they know (and possibly trust); thus, the reply rate is higher than a cold outreach.
  2. If the person can vouch for you, the startup will have a reference, and the chances you'll get hired are higher right from the start.

During the interview, there are four essential things that can help you get hired

1. Show them you can make a difference

A startup wants to hire someone who can solve problems and think on their own. They don't want to have someone who needs guidance all the time but someone who can act and deliver. Explain to them what value you can add to the team, it can be your expertise, language, or your network.

2. Show your passion for the product 

This does not mean brown-nosing and telling them how great and unique their product is. Be authentic and honest. Do some research and even test it out yourself. That'll give you a strong foundation to dive deeper into the conversation about the product and discuss potential problems that you've encountered during the interview. If you've aced this, you're showcasing that you came in prepared, thought about potential problems, and figured out solutions for the product. 

3. Talk about the company's mission and vision, and why you believe them 

Either look at other competitors and try to identify what makes this startup unique or look at the industry and analyze why the startup is making the right moves at this particular point in time. For one, you don't want to work for a company which you think might go bust in the next year. And on the other hand, they don't want to hire someone who doesn't believe in the mission.

Bonus: If you encountered the same problem that the startup is solving, tell them about your experience. It'll help create a mutual point of reference and relatability. 

4. Show them that you're a hustler and committed to the work you are doing 

You can cite examples from past projects at work or university where your contribution and hard work played an immense role in the success of a project.

If there's one takeaway from this article, it's that you should be honest and authentic during the whole interview process. Lying and over-exaggerating will hurt you on your first day, if not then, by the end of your first week.

And if you got hired, congratulations!  

Our parting advice: On your very first day, leave your ego at the door - be humble. Team sizes are usually small, and everyone relies on each other, so team spirit is essential in a startup. Ask questions about the current problems that they are facing, and maybe you'll be able to help by connecting them to someone from your network. This way, you've already added value on your very first day.

Marco Eylert
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Marco's a co-founder at TalentSpace, and he previously worked at McKinsey & Company, Roland Berger and Credit Suisse. He graduated from Bocconi University and Johns Hopkins SAIS, where he was a scholar of the Haniel Foundation and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.

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