As a job seeker, it can be easy to look at the interview as a one-sided process, where a company is deciding if you’re a good fit for their role. But an interview is also a chance for you to evaluate whether the company and the role are going to be a good fit for you.

If you’ve worked at a few startups, you already know that workplace culture, structure, benefits, and perks can vary considerably from company to company. An interview is your opportunity to ask questions about how your prospective employer views the things that are important to you.

This first batch of questions is specific to startups. Senior managers on your interview panel should be able answer these questions, (or find the answers for you), but you’ll have to do some research to determine whether you’re happy with the answers they provide.

  • Is the startup bootstrapped or venture backed?
  • What stage of investment has been raised?
    • Maybe you only want to apply to work at companies that have raised series A funding, or perhaps you’re excited by the challenge of working for a company that is bootstrapped.
  • What is the company’s runway?
    • Startup runway is a complicated concept, but how an employer addresses this question can be just as important as the answer itself — do they sidestep the question or are they clear and up-front?
  • How much do you see the company growing in the next year?
  • Can you tell me about your equity program?
    • If you want more information on equity, this Clef guide is a great starting point. For now, though, let’s leave equity for a future blog post.  
  • Who sits on the Board of Directors?

Before I started at Sendwithus, I didn’t know to ask any of these questions. I’ve learned a lot about how startups work from the transparency we value as a company.

Asking about company values is also a good way to gain insight into how a company operates. No company can focus on all things, so learning what values the leadership team has decided are critical to company success can help you decide if the company is a good fit for you.

  • What are your company values and why were they chosen?
  • Do you allocate budget/resources to professional and career development?
  • Are you involved in the tech community in your city?

These are things that are important to me, personally, and to Sendwithus as a company, but other values could be make-or-break for you. Think about the aspects of an employer you value most and ask questions around them. Is it important that remote work is supported? Maybe you require flexible working hours to take care of a family member? You can find out if your priorities align with those of a prospective employer by asking about their values, policies, and employee supports.

Lastly, ask about how employees work together. Whether this is something you want to be already well established or something you think you can help to improve, it’s great to know how the company works together to build a great product.

  • How do employees collaborate, both within and across teams?
  • What software do you use to organize teams, tasks, and projects?

Whether you’re currently job seeking or happy in your present role, these questions can give you something to think about now and into the future. If you’re interested in a role at a startup, have a look at our open source job board to learn about available positions at companies in Victoria, BC.

 

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