As much as joining a new organisation can be thrilling, there are as many pros as there are cons that should be weighed before making the final decisions. Job recruiters at startup companies look out for good-fitted workers that are willing to pick the company from its initial stages to positions of immense growth and this is usually determined by interview sessions. For a recruitee (candidate) accepting to join a startup means that you have a clear understanding of what you want out of the working opportunity and this can be prioritised according to the;
- Work Culture
- Career Advancement
To make sure that you are making the best decisions possible, and in accordance with each of the priorities outlined above, here are some QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE JOINING A STARTUP.
- If monetary compensation is your priority, you would definitely want to establish how much money you will make from the opportunity, but since conversations about money are never comfortable even to people that have intentions of paying you, here are properly structured questions that are not outrightly uncomfortable, and should be able to get you the response you need to properly consider the role;
- What is the salary range for this role?
- How are the wages calculated and rewarded?
- What does success look like for this role and how will it be measured?
- What performance bonus, additional compensation or commission is available in addition to the base salary of this role?
- What is the highest percentage compensation increase on this job and what are the conditions for it?
- What other benefits plans are available for this role? For instance, would employees be provided with laptops or cell phones?
- If a healthy work environment is your priority, it’s important to make sure that the work ethic and culture of a startup are in line with what you consider necessary and healthy for proper workflow within a company. To understand whether or not you’d fit into their culture, and to know if you agree with their values, here are some questions to ask;
- What are this company’s core mission and values?
- To what extent are these values reflected in this company’s policies and processes?
- What kind of people make up the dream team at this company?
- What is the annual key milestone for this company, and has any been met this year?
- What is the biggest opportunity, and the biggest challenge this company has faced this year?
- What values from competitors inspire this company and how are they incorporated?
- What is particularly unique about this company?
- Would you say that there is a recurrent performance drop in most employees after a while of working in this company?
- What structures are in place to ensure that the mental and emotional well-being of employees is properly foreseen, managed and improved?
- If you are looking for a quick advancement in your career, whether that means stepping up to a higher position or rank within the company, or assuming a position at a different organisation, you need to properly consider what your future would look like 2-5 from joining a startup and if you see feasible growth is in the line with what you want. Ask these questions to understand your growth potential with the startup;
- Will I have learning opportunities that grow new skills in this role?
- What types of opportunities for advancement will I get at this company?
- How often will there be a performance review?
- What is the company’s growth strategy?
- What type of progress do you envision for someone in this role?
- Does this role contribute directly to higher-level decisions at the company?
- How closely and frequently do I have to work within a team? And what are the strengths of the teams with this company?
Here are some bonus questions and why it’s important to ask them.
- What are my roles in this position, and will I be required to take on other responsibilities at any point?
- Here’s why this is important; most startups are at the initial stages of business. This means that the chances that there are a countable number of employees, and one person juggling more than one responsibility in different fields is relatively high. Meaning that an employee in charge of finance could also be in charge for I.T related responsibilities as well as H.R. It is necessary to have a good look into the structure and working conditions at a startup, to avoid being blindsided after joining the company. Having multiple responsibilities assigned to an employee can however not be a bad thing as one might want to explore different opportunities to learn and develop vast skills in different areas of a company. If this is not you, make sure that you ask this question before making a decision.
- What is the current runway and what are your future funding plans?
- If you are interested in the longevity and sustainability of a startup, especially if you have a great interest in the company and have plans of staying for a while, it is necessary to understand as a potential new employee the different levels of risk working with that startup. You might want to be aware of the amount of cash the startup has under the belt and for how long, as well as when the company might be nearing the potential end of its funding and is going to start looking to raise more. Being aware of a company’s runway, the amount of time a company has until it dries up will tell you a lot about the sustainability of the company. The longer the runway, the better the chance of stability and job security.
In conclusion, no career move comes without risk, but by looking at your potential new startup through the above lenses, and emphasising the one that matches your priorities you’ll have the highest chance of landing in the best spot for you. So now that you know what you should be asking, don’t be shy to ask them at your startup interview. Doing so will show prospective employees that you are prepared and that you also have needs that should be met in order to be efficient and produce the best results.