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5 Job Interview Tactics With Startups That Piss Me Off

Working for a startup looks exciting and enticing. Interviewing for a startup job  is hugely annoying. Let me run through a list of “piss me off” things. Multiple Interviews: I’m willing to have a couple of telephone interviews and maybe two face to face interviews. The current Silicon Valley method of ten interviews with lunch and dinner is a massive time waster, a stupid way to hire and sure sign that you are hopeless at hiring people. If you don’t know what you want, I don’t want to work for you.

No wonder CEOs of startup complain and whine about recruiting – they waste so much time and the method is a mess.

Kool-aid victim: Working for a startup is a pretty big gamble and you probably need to have some passion for what the company does to take the risk. But don’t bring the attitude to an interview. The interview is chance for me to see if your company has a real vision and whether I can realise the financial reward. If I want to clap hands and sing songs about an unknowable vision I can visit a pentecostal church to do that. I want facts and numbers about your business.

job-interview-tactics-opt Weakness:  Do not lie about your SWAT. If I ask where the business could go wrong, competitors and exit strategy then tell me straight. If I’m smart enough to ask, you need to be smart enough to answer. If the person doesn’t ask this question, then you are hiring someone who doesn’t understand business. That might be fine for a programmer or someone who lacks a business focus but it doesn’t cut cake for me.

Risk and Opportunity Cuts Both Ways: I have an especial loathing for interviewers who think they are taking all the risk in hiring me and treat me like some kind of alien. This misguided attitude will have me walking out the door in mid-interview. This demonstrates self-centred and obsessive behaviour of the worst kind. If you lack empathy for the risks I’m taking, losses I will sustain in making a transition and my personal situation then you aren’t someone I want to work with.

Don’t Lie, Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver:  The worst of all is telling me how much money you will make, or how large you might be, or how your technology is …. much great, so something and big awesome. That’s all lies until proven otherwise. If you live in a make-believe land of fairy technology and princesses that will purchase your product/service/company then I’m not working with you because you are clearly an idiot.

Solutions

Make it easy for me to join you then make it easy for you to get rid of me. This put risk on the job applicant who knows that you will be invoking the 4 week exit clause. Be brutal and tell them that you will ditch them out the door if the applicant doesn’t fit it, make the grade, demonstrate the technical knowledge. Now the applicant has to make a serious commitment.

The current method wastes time, money and effort for negative gain. You have invested so much time and money in the interview process that you are highly unlikely to get rid of me. Which is stupid.

Yes, interviewing for startups pisses me off and I won’t be rushing to do it again.

I want is an interesting job that pays fair money, interesting work and nice people. You want someone smart, motivated and team player. Have you got that ? It’s all you need to attract the right person.

Comments

  1. So, so, SO much truth in that pontification. Bringing back memories of some of the exploratory brushes with startups I’ve had over the last couple of years.

  2. Spitballing here, would talking to the Angel/VC early in the process help? Some of the money guys are very savvy. My thought is that they might actually have a clearer idea of the risks – instead of the CEO trying to absorb, process, and consider the risks *during* the Q&A.

  3. Hans De Leenheer says:

    Being in the process of trying to find something new for a while now I can definitely add a few points to your list here. Let me give you the most loathing one: “checkbox HR”. It’s that moment where a single box not checked makes them choose someone else with half your talent. The biggest hurdle – even for travelling jobs – seems to be relocation. Although not a real startup, Amazon went above and beyond all (+6!!!) other opportunities I did not get due to this rule: http://hansdeleenheer.com/the-hr-checklist-gone-wrong/