Interview Questions to Ask - Start Up Companies
Start up companies are a "different breed". They can be riskier than more established companies, but they can also have greater rewards, in terms of financial upside as well as the ability to make an impact on a product and a company. Usually, start ups are closely knit group. Employees are usually asked to wear many hats and work very long hours. Questions you may want to ask start up companies focus on the financial stability of the companies as well as the quality of life the employees enjoy. Here are some examples of questions to ask during the interview?
- How much financial backing do they have? Who is their backing through? What "round" of funding are they on? Certain VC companies are known to be more "helpful" than others. Angel Investors, too, have been known to step in and help out a company in trouble. What kinds of investors does the company have? I highly recommend researching start ups and VC companies on VentureLoop.
- What is their current financial status? Are they showing a profit yet? If not, how big are their losses? How, and when, do they expect to become profitable?
- What is top-management's experience and track record? Have they successfully lead a start up before? What was the outcome of their previous ventures? Did the company go belly-up? Were they purchased by Microsoft?
- Who are their competitors, if any? How well are the competitors doing? What edge, if any, do they have over their competitors? You need to try to determine what makes this company different from all the other start ups out there.
- How many hours do employees typically work per day? Per week? Are employees expected to work most weekends?
- What benefits do they offer? In order to compare apples to apples, you will need to get detailed information on such things as paid time off, medical benefits (be sure to ask about premium contributions - how much you are expected to pay for your benefits each month). You will also need to know if there is any kind of retirement plan in place, and if the company matches any contributions. If you are unemployed, these questions may be of less importance than if you are considering leaving a more stable environment for that of a start up company.
- You will want a detailed discussion of the company's stock plan if you will be basing a large part of your decision on the potential up-swing of the stock after an IPO. Guy Kawasaki has some excellent stock-related questions to ask once you have received an offer from a start up. Those questions can be found on his blog, under Nine Questions to Ask a Start Up.