How to ace a job interview at a start-up business

Posted on: December 11th, 2015

What’s the main focus of a job interview? For a long time it has been showing that you have the skills and expertise as defined in the job description: ‘I can do this job and here’s why…’ Candidates know where they stand and can tell interviewers what they want to hear.

But then along came start-ups and things changed. A candidate attending an interview at a start-up still has to demonstrate they have the rights skills and experience, but they also have to show they are totally customer driven and have outstanding people skills. These interviewers want to hire someone who doesn’t just impress, but who knocks them off their feet.

The pressure is on, so here are ten tips on how to tell those interviewers exactly what they want hear.

1 Proactive not passive

Business today is all about transformation, progression, dealing with unknowns and making the most of data. As a result, start-ups are looking for people who are flexible enough to change with the business and get things done. Talk in terms of actions and results rather than tasks and talent.

2 Taking responsibility

A culture of blame is never good for any business – especially not a start-up. If you can demonstrate to your interviewer that you are able to take responsibility for your actions without making excuses they will see you as a true asset to the company.

3 Going the extra mile

Businesses have processes and as well as showing you recognise the importance of these processes, you must also demonstrate your willingness to go beyond those set parameters when required. The best candidates will show they have the judgement needed to work outside of a process or boundary to get the best results.

4 A people person

People skills are something that come out loud and clear at interview – and if you don’t have them in an interview, you probably won’t have them when dealing with customers. Start-ups are looking for employees who can form good relationships with colleagues and customers alike.

5 Be curious

Working for a start-up means everyone pulling together and having a handle on the many different aspects that make up the business. As a candidate, if you can show you like to question, listen and qualify then you most certainly stand out from the crowd.

6 Dig a little deeper

Interviewers want to know that candidates are resilient and can dig deep when required. If they ask you tough questions it’s because they want to see how you react to a challenge. Neither resistance nor inflexibility sits well with managers, and these are qualities that could be a turn-off for customers too.

7 Look beyond the words

The best communicators don’t just listen, they watch too. Body language and emotion can tell you a lot about an individual and interviewers want to see candidates are able to read the person they are dealing with. Show them that you are socially-intelligent and people-smart.

8 Independent worker

Being confident and professional without being overly friendly shows that you are able to work with minimal support. Give examples of times when you put your initiative and determination to use to get the job done. (This is as well as demonstrating you are a also team player, of course!)

9 Show empathy

The ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes is a wonderful attribute to possess. Show your empathy skills through examples of how you have dealt with conflicts and nurtured positive relationships.

10 Good manners go a long way

Good manners and etiquette get you far in life. They show respect and encourage it too. Don’t leave home without them…

Here at Lucy Bristow we can help you craft the perfect CV and give you a range of interview techniques to help secure your perfect role. Whether you are looking to work at a start-up or not, contact the team to find out how we can help you emphasize your people skills, customer focus and more.

Image: Business Men by Markus Spiske available under a CC BY 2.0 license

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