Interviews are like sales calls – situations where you can sell the best possible product: yourself. And just like you would never go to a customer call without some preparation, you really shouldn’t go to an interview either. Quite the opposite.

We at Startuplifers pulled out some tips to help you with your preparation based on the book Case interview Questions for Tech Companies by Lewis C. Linn.



First, let’s go through some general advice to start with your preparation:

Be ready to tell about your achievement and results.
Show them proof what you can do and, if you can, use numbers. It’s quite common for Finns not to brag about themselves, but this is not the perfect place to be modest. Particularly, in the US, it is common practice to add 30% more to your numbers.

Do your googling well
Study the company in depth: its financial situation, competitors, consumers, and industry as well as what they are trying to build. If possible, try out their product. You should be able to understand their business quite well before the interview.

Prepare intelligent questions
The more detailed and relevant you can make them the better. Use your research and refer to the information you have got during the interview. In best case scenario, you are actually interviewing them to understand their largest pain points and how well your skills could solve them.

Be comfortable with English.
For business roles, it is quite important to have a fluent level of English. If you have never had an interview in English before, preparing to answer some common questions might be a good idea.

Be ready to small talk.
For a non-technical person, it’s quite crucial that you are able to network and talk about anything. The basic “how are you?”/ “How’s the weather there?” are good things to start with.

Be prepared that the interview process might not be perfect.
An early stage startup doesn’t always have standardized recruitment or interview process for its business employees. Be patient and use some extra effort to deliver the message how you could help the company.


Well, what kind of questions should you prepare to answer?

The business interviews usually include general questions and a hypothetical business situation aka case questions. Sometimes the interview can also include interactive for example sales simulations. Remember that in the most cases, how you say things is more important than what you say. Be enthusiastic and try to concentrate on your storytelling skills rather than only the content of your response.

Be ready to explain what motivates you and why you are applying for the job in the first place. These questions are quite useful for testing if the position and you are a real match.
Example questions: Why marketing/sales/business development? /Why this company/product?

Best examples of your industry-questions
On top of looking for the experience, the companies are also looking for thrive to learn and passion to your specialty. Being able to show how you stay on the top of the trends in your industry is quite important.
Example questions: What companies have a successful digital marketing strategy? / What marketing blogs/newsletters you read?

Explain me something-questions
The main purpose of these questions is to test your ability to explain concepts. Asking you to explain something super familiar to you is, well, like asking a sales rep to describe their product to you.

There are a ton of recourses of example questions. A few good ones include following:
Marketing: this and this
Sales and Business Development: here, here and here


Case interviews

The tech cases usually are open-ended questions that rarely have any background information. They are like the strategic board questions which the Managers and CEO come across daily.

For this type of questions, the most important thing is to have a plan for your response and reasoning behind it. Don’t just throw individual ideas. However, no one is expecting you to make the market campaign of the year in one minute so don’t stress too much. The essential factor is to bring up your thinking and show how you would approach the problems.
In “Case Interview questions for tech companies” by Lewis C. Lin introduces 155 common tech cases and opens up how to approach them. He brings up few useful questions to start your thinking process with.

For marketing related cases:
• What are the objectives?
• How could you measure them?
• Who are your targeted customers?
• What is the right value proposition for this situation
• What are the proper marketing channels?
Example questions: Create a marketing campaign for X./ How would you launch a product?

Sales/Business development:
• Selling:
o To whom are you selling?
o What is the right value proposition basing that customer’s needs?
o If there is no immediate need for your product is there some latent needs you could recover?
o Is the person you are reaching out the decision maker?
o What are the objections against buying?
• Attracting new prospects:
o Who is the prospect?
o Can you reach the prospect?
o What are the prospect’s needs?
o How to draw his attention?
o How to communicate the benefits?
o How to convey trust with the prospect?
Example questions: How would you sell X to Y?/ What strategies would you use to attract new business?
Want to get more tips for preparing the case questions? We are handing hard copies of “Case Interview questions for tech companies” for applicants who have applied to our Talentpool during May 2018. So now is definitely a great time to apply!

Show interest outside the interview.

Startups are looking for self-starters, people who make things happen. In the current job market, you, business folks, are, in that unfortunate position that there isn’t as a shouting lack of talents as there is on the developer side. Also, the cultural differences play a more significant role in business roles, so the companies are less enthusiastic to hire international talent. Therefore, getting yourself hired requires some extra preparation! There are two things you should definitely do to show your interest:

Answer emails fast – The email culture (particularly in Silicon Valley) differs our one the way that the emails are expected to be answered very quickly. Keeping your employer waiting over a day starts to be a negative sign.

Follow up – After the interview sends a thank you email. Feel free to ask when you could be expecting to hear back from them. Also, if you feel you didn’t nail some of the questions in the interview, you can always show more knowledge in the follow-up message.

Want to get actual challenge cases and understand the interviewers’ philosophy better?
Apply now to Startuplifers and test your skills in practice!