In our last blog post we talked about what a start-up is looking for during a role-based interview. Today we want to discuss what you can do to stand out when getting interviewed for a specific need in a specific team. Speaking of teams, startups tend to work in cross-functional teams from decision making to implementation. So, let’s explore what makes up a cross-functional team and how you can become the latest addition to one.

What is a cross-functional team?

Unlike in traditional companies, startups or early stage ventures are usually small with fewer number of heads. While tight for both resources and time, they still have very similar functions and goals to achieve like in any other business. Therefore, instead of having strictly defined departments or job functions, startups operate through cross-functional teams. A group of experts from different backgrounds or areas of expertise working together towards a common goal. When you’re invited to a role-based interview, it’s to assess if and how you will fit and elevate such a team.

What is the benefit of having such teams?

There are many plus points in bringing together experts from different fields to tackle a single problem. For starters the creativity, innovation, engagement, efficiency and growth gets boosted off the charts. However, possibly the most simple yet valuable advantage is the wide area of competence available within the team. If only a limited number of people can jump on board, it makes sense to pick them from the most relevant yet diverse areas of function. 

In practice this could look like a team of engineers working on an app. They could be backend, frontend, data and devops experts collaborating on a project. On the other hand, it could also be a full stack engineer, UX designer, graphic artist, content writer, project manager and a sales guru, all working together. Cross-functional teams could be as varied or similar, and big or small as the project and resources allow them to be.

How can you carve your place in a cross-functional team?

When you’re interviewed for a cross-functional team, remember to highlight your ‘T-shaped skills’. The horizontal top part of the ‘T’ symbolizes the broad area of knowledge you are expected to have. You don’t have to be an expert in this. However, you do need to know the basics to be effective and collaborate within the team. The bottom vertical part of the ‘T’ refers to your key area of focus. The function you have more than average knowledge on and are very comfortable working in. The skill you’ll bring to the table which will help to elevate the team.

Try to research which areas the startup is struggling or lacking in expertise. Investigate what product or solution they are currently working on or interesting in building next. You can even ask these questions during the interview. Then, evaluate yourself to identify if you can fill this gap. Or if you have the right competence to help the company make their next big move. Perhaps you are interested in learning this particular skill or specializing in this specific area. If so, make sure you highlight that during the interview. 

Now that you’ve uncovered how to shine on paper and in person, check out our open positions to discover your dream job.