What Not to Do in Startup Job Interviews – Part 4

We’re nearing the end of this series - I have a couple more tidbits I wanted to share with you guys. But really, there’s no such thing as too many tips on this topic, I would think.

So let’s get started.

“Don’t arrive for an interview and have never used their product,” says Social Media Manager Sara Mooradian of Readyforce. “Companies, especially startups, are hungry for valuable user feedback. Use their product, if it's in beta ask for them for a demo before you go in.”

Mooradian says to come armed with feedback. Or, if you’re a programmer, find a bug and solve it for them. (She also was nice enough to pass along a link to this blog post she wrote for her company’s site on researching startups.)

Debra Ann Matthews of Let Me Write It For You makes an important suggestion: Don’t ask about salary. I’ll elaborate: You shouldn’t because it’s presumptive. It’s like asking what the PTO policy is and other things that would only be relevant once you’ve gotten the job and are about to phase into taking on the role. Also add under that header questions about the hours and benefits. Don’t do it.

Personally, I think it’s A-OK to ask what a typical day in this job would be like. I feel that a job interview is for both parties to suss out what the relationship is going to be like. And you can’t figure out whether you want to enter that relationship as an applicant unless you have a clear idea of, well, what your day-to-day is going to be like.

But getting back to pay? Yes, it’s frustrating not to know what the salary could be or might be. And as much as you or I might wish companies would just go ahead and list the salary in their ads, it just ain’t gonna happen. Alas.

Piggybacking off that point, let me add this: Don’t dress casually.

Marti Benjamin, a professional certified business coach, agrees, adding, “If you’re told that the office environment is casual, that means business casual for the applicant, not summer vacation wear.”

And you might scoff and think nobody would make that mistake — but you would be wrong. That’s why I’m compiling all this for you guys here.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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