Before Landing the Job
Before you start working for a startup, here are some things you may want to consider to help you count the costs:
There’s no standard startup interview. Because startup founders or managers may not have much experience in hiring, expect to roll with the punches and respond to questions you may not have heard before.
The hiring process is quick. Get ready to move quickly if you want the job. At most startups, don’t expect a lot of red HR tape to cut through. It’s common to be offered a job on the spot.
Don’t be surprised if you’re offered an audition as a part of the interview. Don’t be surprised if you have to do some work before getting an official offer. (This is not an unusual request, even in non-startup interview situations.)
Cultural fit will be an issue. Make sure to be yourself and have a good understanding of why you’re the perfect fit for the job before even accepting the offer for an interview.
Don’t expect cushy compensation packages. Brace yourself to take a pay cut in exchange for equity. This is usually a sign that you’re buying into the mission and will be incentivized to work hard and make the company successful. You’ll need to be willing to make this tradeoff, but think carefully — it is a potential high-risk and high-reward gamble.
There’s no formal onboarding. Be ready to configure your new computer, purchase your own software and learn on your own. If you’re not a self-starter who likes to tackle issues on the spot, then startups aren’t right for you.
Expect long hours. Prepare to be fully invested in daily activities when working for a startup. This could mean long hours and personal sacrifices. (For instance, during off hours, you must be willing to respond to phone calls and emails.)
Prepare for volatility. You must be flexible enough to accept new strategies and tactics that may change at any time based on new information or advice.
Forget about being laidback. Startups are not a carefree environment. There will be moments of considerable stress as everyone works toward success.
Done is better than perfect. In a startup environment, it is better to get a project in front of your audience sooner rather than later. Don’t let a project bog you down in a quest for perceived perfection.