Interview Tips

Career Information | Job & Internship Search | Recruiting Timeline
Resumes & Cover Letters | Interview Tips | Get Involved

Depending on the startup and the role for which you are interviewing, you will likely be asked a combination of technical and behavioral questions. Here are some things you can do to prepare:

Prepare for technical questions.

  • For engineers, read books from your CS studies (e.g., CLR5: Introduction to Algorithms).
  • For designers, walk through your portfolio and be prepared to answer questions about design decisions you made.

Prepare for behavioral questions.

  • Think about examples from your past that show you using transferable skills. Here are some of the skills that startups might like to hear about: creative problem solving and innovation, teamwork, leadership, management of multiple projects, ability to work in a fast-paced environment, adaptability and flexibility.
  • Highlight the results you’ve achieved.

Come prepared with questions.

  • Startups want to hire people who show interest in the company, so demonstrate your interest by learning as much as you can about the startup before your interview and asking well-informed questions.

Test the product

  • A great way to research the company and demonstrate your interest in its work is to put yourself in the user’s shoes. If the company has a product that is easy to access, you should take time to explore its features and be ready to talk about it.

Research competitors and the business landscape

  • The more you know about competitors, relevant markets, and potential challenges, the more you can speak to your interviewers as though you’re already part of the team.

Interview Attire

While it is generally safe to dress up for interviews, some startups boast informal work environments in which wearing a suit would communicate that a candidate doesn’t understand the startup’s culture. In order to know what level of formality will be appropriate for your interview at a startup, do as much research about the company culture as possible. Start by looking at the company website and asking anyone you know who works there. If you are still not sure what to wear, consider asking the hiring manager or recruiter about the workplace dress code and whether it would be appropriate for you to wear a suit.

Even if it turns out that a suit is overly formal for your startup interview, you should still dress in a way that communicates professionalism and excitement for the position. Wear clean, ironed clothes with no holes. Consider pants or a skirt and a tucked-in button down shirt or blouse, and even a blazer.

Startup Interviewing Questions and Prompts

  • Why do you want to work at our company?
  • Why do you want to work at a startup?
  • What is your work style?
  • Tell us about a time you creatively solved a problem.
  • Tell us about a time you took a risk.
  • What are some new ideas you have for the part of the company you’re applying to work in?
  • How would you go about implementing one of those ideas?
  • What are your favorite startups and why?
  • What are your favorite/least favorite apps and why?
  • What are some trends in the tech industry that you’re aware of and how might they affect our startup?
  • What did you do over the weekend?