6 things to think about before interviewing with a startup

Startup Career Fair 2014

More than 50 startups will be at Northwestern University on Wednesday, April 1 for the 2015 Startup Career Fair. As students from across the University prepare to meet with representatives in hopes of landing a position at one of these startups, we turned to Kellogg’s Career Management Center for tips and advice that students should keep in mind for the event. Even if you are not attending the fair, the content can be applicable to anyone pursuing a new job.

PASSION

Get knowledgeable about the space the business is in or the problem they are trying to solve. The founders believe in the mission. They need to hear that you believe in it too and are inspired as much as they are.

KNOWLEDGE

Learn enough about the company to identify areas where you can add value. Focus on an area that you are passionate about.  Show real curiosity about the subject matter covered by the company. Become a nerd about the subject and capable of getting into the details.

PITCH

Have a clear concise pitch around your transferable skills – how your skills can help them. Align your pitch to answer how you can address the challenges they face or needs they have. Your pitch will evolve as you have conversations and do research and find more information on the company’s needs, challenges and competitive market space. Put all this information to work by highlighting the pieces of your experience that address those issues.

NETWORKING

Relationship building is critical.  If you can, try to do in person coffee chats or visits. Think about building that relationship over time. Show real interest and ask poignant questions to better understand how they operate and identify where you can bring value. It is your job to show them your individual value as a candidate. Don’t lead with “I am an MBA;” they are more interested in you and your skills than a MBA title.

FLEXIBILITY

Be ready for an ambiguous interview process. Informal conversations could quickly turn into a real interview. Come prepared to all conversations and interactions, ready to share your true interest, story and how you can help the company.

PATIENCE

The timeline for recruiting may not really get active until spring quarter. You may spend time before then dedicated to the search with no tangible results and that is OK. The reality is that you are still making progress since you are developing your knowledge and fine tuning how to show your value and this will show in your conversations. Start showing the resilience valued by startups by staying motivated and setting action steps to keep your search moving forward. Utilize resources at Kellogg, work with the CMC and speak with other students to help you in the process.

Follow #NUSCF15 on Twitter to gain advice and lessons from startup representatives at the Startup Career Fair, and learn more about a collection of Kellogg students and alumni and the startups they are working at.

Learn more about entrepreneurship at Kellogg.

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