What Not to Do in Startup Job Interviews – Part 5

Bike Riding Cat

Last one.

Now, with startups, people often talk about how important culture is. But every startup is different, and even if you’re a serial entrepreneur, a new startup isn’t guaranteed to to have a culture in place right away.

That’s why some say you should have multiple people involved with the interview process. That will allow folks to give a better approximation of what the company’s beliefs are, its vibe is and so forth. That said, don’t delay in making your hiring decision or stretch the process out. I’ve also heard of companies flying people in for an all-day interview where they meet everybody and basically simulate a day of work.

I’m not sure what the conventional wisdom on such things are, but I’m inclined to think there should be a limit on how much work and potential inconvenience you can impose upon someone without compensation. Yes, the interview itself is an honor, but that doesn’t pay the bills. And, yes, you, as the company, wants the best possible person, but sometimes people can hire you.

“Sometimes it's worth hiring someone with a little less experience,” says Michael Hourigan, marketing manager at Shoeboxed.com, “if
they seem like they would mesh really well with the rest of the team.”

This, oddly enough, echoes something I’ve heard in my comedy circles about casting: Talent can come later, but there’s no substitute for enthusiasm. If you have a really talented person who thinks they have nothing left to learn, they’ll slow everyone else down in time. But if the reverse is true? Someone who’s enthusiastic but not extremely skilled? They may slow folks down at first, but in time simply crush it through osmosis.

Before you get to that hire, though, “Please don’t use inexperienced interviewers, especially if you are interviewing someone senior with extensive experience,” says Stacey Hawley, a career and leadership development coach and executive compensation specialist. “In other words, don't send in a 25-year-old to interview a 55-year-old if the 25-year-old can't speak the same language and relate.”

We’ve covered a lot of ground here and certainly this isn’t comprehensive about everything job interview-related, but hopefully this has given you something to think about or, at the very least, be aware of. I’ll let Mike Perez, CEO of HighRank Websites, take it to the hoop with one final thought for you: “Don’t be fake, be yourself.”

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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