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by Dana Levin-Robinson via Fairygodboss | January 14, 2019

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A job at a startup can be exciting, scary, and fulfilling. Interviewing for one is a similar journey.

The unpredictability of a startup interview is especially true if you're transitioning from another industry or a larger company. You might find yourself stumped during the dreaded, “Do you have any questions for me?” section of the interview.

Depending on the company’s size, age, and funding situation, you’ll face a different set of challenges. And these challenges can be completely unique to the challenges you might've faced at another company, especially a corporate one.

So, to ensure you’re asking the most relevant questions during your startup interview, here are some of the most important questions to ask, divided up by funding round—a useful indicator of exactly what a new organization is looking for.

SEED STAGE

For seed stage companies, you want to learn whether there's a realistic market for the product and how far along the company is in addressing it. It will be rare for a company to have a fully built out product or many clients at this stage, so focus on whether the strategy sounds plausible and promising.

Questions to ask:

1. What was the insight that drove the founders to form the company?

2. Why did you join the company?

3. Is the product functional or still in development? If the latter, what is the launch timeline?

4. Do you have any clients or customers yet? If not, how do you plan to acquire them?

SERIES A-B

Companies at this stage have often have a fully functional product and several customers. Its focus areas will be on properly scaling its team and operations, acquiring more clients, and improving the product.

Questions to ask:

1. Do you feel there's a strong market/product fit?

2. How many clients do you have?

3. How is the staff structured?

4. Is the company profitable/what is latest valuation of the company? (Note: occasionally companies may not want to answer financial information. This is not necessarily a red flag as most startups are privately owned and don’t publicly disclose financials.)

SERIES C & ABOVE

By this point, the company has established processes across operations, marketing, and tech and the market is familiar with the product offering. Most often, the company is expanding its operations to new markets or verticals to grow revenues.

Questions to ask:

1. Which markets have you seen the most traction in?

2. What do the people who do well at this company have in common?

3. Which areas of the company do you see the most growth/hiring in the upcoming year?

4. Is the company’s goal to go public or get acquired?

As a final note, regardless of the stage, make sure to always ask a few questions in each interview. You never want to answer, “Do you have any questions for me?” with a "No."

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

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