This week we will publish three blog posts compiled from the advice given by our keynote speakers at the event So, you want to work at a startup?. Yesterday’s post was put together from the keynote by our business alumna Nelli Lähteenmäki, and today’s post features the tips by our design alumna Lisa Lee.
Last year, Startup Lifer Lisa Lee spent five months working as a design intern at MyTime in the heart of San Francisco. MyTime is recruiting again! Check their Design Intern and Software Engineering Intern positions from our Jobs-page!
What you should know before a startup job interview – Tips by Lisa Lee
Sending in your application is just the first step in an application process. If you get lucky and land an interview, the trickiest part is still ahead of you.
There are a couple of things you should very much consider doing before you open your Skype and meet the faces behind the job description. Most likely, you have done your homework on the startup before sending in the application, but now would be a good spot to do a bit more in-depth research on the company, the person you will be talking to and especially the product they are working on. The startups expect that of you, and they will see quite quickly, if you haven’t prepared yourself for the interview.
You could say that startups are their products. This is why it’s super important to know the product and try it (if possible) before the interview. Don’t limit yourself to being able to answer questions about the product, but rather be proactive by asking questions and giving feedback. Startups love feedback, so if you find loopholes in their product or if you think there’s something that could be improved, let them know! This goes back to the concept of boldness discussed in Nelli’s keynote. You will be more memorable and taken more seriously in the startup context if you share your actionable ideas and show that you’re already interested in making the product better for its users, the startup’s customers.
Boldness is good, but a certain level of humbleness is also required in an interview with a startup. Remember, that you’re applying to an internship, which means that you’re going there to learn new things. So, figure out what knowledge you still lack and what skills and technologies you want to work on, so that when they ask about your weaknesses, you have a good and clear reply ready to go. Asking feedback on your portfolio and previous work is also a great idea, because it shows that you’re eager to learn more and that you appreciate their opinion and advice. Last but not least, don’t freak out if the company asks you to do a task after the interview – its not a judge of your design skills but more to see how you work under pressure and it will prepare you for the intense work pace of a startup.
Three last-minute tips for an interview:
1. Always play to your strengths.
2. Show the variety of skills you have – startups love employees who can wear many different hats.
3. Brush up your your technical vocabulary.