5 Revealing Interview Questions Every Startup Should Ask.

You’re building a business and it’s starting to take off. Your 6 person team is already putting in killer hours, so it’s time to bring a couple more employees onboard.

Good deal. But you’re the one who has to source, interview, vet and persuade the great talent that your startup is the right place for them. The rest of your team is way too busy.

Before you start this time-consuming process, here’s 5 important screening questions that you’ll need answers to before you move ahead with an in-person interview. At AVRA, we find that asking these questions (and a few others) up front will save you time in screening out prospective hires who really won’t fit the role or culture.

1. What attracted you to our company?

We like to ask this question first because the answer your prospective employees give will be revealing. If they give you a short answer, press for more information.

If the answers focus on how the position will help the prospect, this might be a candidate that puts in only enough effort to get what they want out of the job and then departs for their next gig. What you want to hear is how the prospect can help the startup meet its goals and what she/he will bring to the team.

When they are answering this question, see if they seem excited and eager to start. Do they have any details about why they want this specific job? Look for motivated and focused responses to this question.

Also ask yourself:

  • If they seem knowledgeable about what your company does and what it provides to clients?
  • Is their grasp of their position and responsibilities in that position pretty good?
  • Do they think their competencies will fit in this position, or do they seem a little dubious?
  • Are they showing passion about this position and your startup?

2. These are the three outcomes that we’d expect to be met by you in your first three months with the company. Can you tell me, with specifics, how you’d meet those outcomes?

Before you screen the prospective employee, you’ll have developed at least 3 objective outcomes that a potential employee must accomplish to be considered a successful (A player) hire. Developing outcomes that are objective and quantifiable is essential.

  • As you explain the performance outcomes to the person that you are screening and listen to them explain how they’ll meet those outcomes in their first 3 months, you’ll gain an understanding of what that prospect considers to be important, if they really have an understanding of the requirements of your job, and how they would approach a new situation.

3. Explain something to me in five minutes that’s pretty complicated, but something that you’re confident that you could teach me.

When you have the choice between experience and smarts, smarts always wins out. This is a way to not only see how the person you’re interviewing communicates, but how their mind works.

How intelligently, but simply, can they convey a concept? How good are they at explaining things so that the listener understands easily. (Important when working with a team of people and important when explaining things to your customers).

4. Where are you in your job search now?

This is where you’ll find out if you are the only company that they are interviewing with or if this is the fourth interview that they’ve had this week! Maybe they’d even had an offer made and they are weighing it.

If this is an ‘A Player’ candidate, this would be a factor in how quickly you make a decision on them and how quickly you contact them with an offer.

5. What would be the ideal job for you right now?

You’re asking them to give you a run down of what they’d like in their ideal job and get them to explain the items they list to you. For example:

  • What does their ideal manager look like
  • What hours would they prefer to work;
  • Whether they want to work remotely part of the week or are happy to come into the office each day

As they talk, note the things that they say they want that you know you either can’t, or don’t want to provide as a company. If they mention something that’s possible for your startup (for example, working from 6AM to 3PM two days a week), then you have something to offer them when you KNOW that you want them.

Though this process can be time-consuming, it’s so worth it. The cost of a bad-hire, or misaligned cultural fit, is not only expensive in terms of wasted salary, but is a huge energy and time sink for multiple members of your team.

Luckily, if you realize how important the vetting process is—but don’t have the time/energy to do initial written and phone screens yourself—you can call us at AVRA and we’re happy to do an audit of your current process to see if we can help you hire the best.