Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Don’t Do This When You’re Interviewing With a Startup

Date:

You’ve graduated from a reputable college with a tech degree and top grades, so you think to get a tech job at a startup is a cinch, right? You couldn’t be more wrong, especially if you have to first go through an interview. Regardless of your tech skills, your interview may be the hurdle that keeps you from getting your dream job.

Plenty of otherwise capable tech graduates fails at the interview portion of the job hunt. To keep you from making the same mistakes, be aware of the following common errors that too many tech job seekers commit:

You’re not dressed right

The era of techs dressing like slobs is over, and that’s an especially egregious mistake on an interview. You don’t even have the job yet! Maybe when you’ve attained some seniority in the company you may be given some leeway, but not when you’re still applying for a job.

It’s also not enough that you got a nice polo shirt on, especially when you also have tattered jeans and “classic” Air Jordan sneakers. Seriously, it doesn’t portray you as a serious worker on whom a company is supposed to invest their time and money. When in doubt, dress conservatively. Try on a suit for a change, shave or trim that beard nicely, and for goodness’ sake comb your hair!

You’re too casual in your tone and mannerisms

You’re not out with friends. Instead, you’re interacting with a person who has a say on whether or not you get a job with them at the end of it all. They have power over you, so it’s right if you’re a bit formal during the interview. You have to be courteous.

If you’re too casual, then it may seem as if you’re not really serious about getting the job. That’s not the kind of worker that companies are eager to hire.

You focus too much on your tech skills

It’s understandable if you like to talk about your range of technical skills. After all, that’s what you trained for and you’re more comfortable talking about what you actually know. You may want to emphasize your various certifications and other credentials.

Yet on interviews, your goal is to present yourself as more than a walking set of tech skills. You still have to prove that you’re a good fit for a company and their team of current tech workers. So you also have to present a positive character and not simply highlight your tech skills.

You come off as arrogant

The ability to work as part of a team is a crucial requirement for many companies. You’ll fail to do just that if you somehow mistake your arrogance for self-confidence. If the interviewer thinks you’re arrogant, then they may also conclude that you’re not much of a team player at all.

So how do you know the difference? Basically, it’s all about the underlying attitude. A confident person knows what they can do and how good they are. An arrogant person, on the other hand, feels like they’re better than everyone else.

You give curt short answers to questions

In a job interview, there’s really no such thing as a plain yes or no question. You answer “yes” or “no”, and then you have to elaborate on that answer. This type of question is like an opening salvo for a conversation, and you need to look at this as a chance to demonstrate your potential value to a team.

If you can’t communicate properly, then you’re a liability.

You don’t know enough about the company doing the hiring

There’s simply no good excuse for you not to do any sort of research on a prospective employer. At the very least, check out their websites and see if there have been any articles written about the company. See if you know anyone working there and asks them some questions.

Your research should also cover the industry in which the company is a part, and you should do some studying about the company’s competitors as well. If you’re not motivated enough to study up on the company, it’s as if you don’t really care about them at all.

You don’t ask questions

At the end of the interview, the interviewer may ask you if you have questions for them. This is your chance to find things out about the company that you didn’t uncover during your own research. It also shows your interest in the company and the industry they’re a part of.

So when they say, “Do you have any questions?” you don’t say “No”. In fact, before the interview, you may want to prepare some questions about the company in advance.

You ask about perks

While it’s understandable if part of you is asking the “What’s in it for me?” question, you still need to refrain from discussing the subject during the interview portion of the job hunt. Instead, you have to push that back after they’ve made you a job offer. So don’t go into the details regarding your benefits. Companies prefer workers who put the job and company first (or at least seem to). A “me-first” attitude is a turn-off.

You treat the interview like a therapy session

When you’re on a first date, you don’t spend too much time griping about your exes and your woeful romantic situation. The same goes for a job interview. Just because the interviewer seems friendly doesn’t mean you can go on and on about your previous work problems and current job hunt tragedies.

You let the interview peter out

A successful interview doesn’t fade out like some sort of awkward conversation. At the end of it, you have to close properly. You have to end it by showing them how much you’d like to be part of the company. You can also ask questions about the next stage of the job hunt process. You have to present yourself as an asset that the company should use.

So remember, getting a tech job isn’t all about having the right skills. It’s also about being able to communicate and having the right attitude. If you can keep that in mind, then your job interviews should go more smoothly!

John Diep
John Diephttps://lastartups.com
Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect: john@lastartups.com
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