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Interviewing with a Startup: The Essential Guide for Candidates without Startup Experience
Sydney Maxwell
, 21st May 2019
15 min read
Recruitment Resources

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What makes interviewing with a startup different
  • What you should know about the company and how to prepare before the interview
  • Questions you should expect from the interviewer
  • Top questions you can ask that will ensure you standout
  • How to follow up after an interview

Why are very qualified candidates, coming from the most prestigious backgrounds, unsuccessful at startup interviews? Hiperpool has seen a good number of strategy consultants, investment bankers, and similar professionals fail startup interviews. Historically, they’ve managed to get through the most demanding assessment days and case interviews, yet they can’t seem to pass a startup phone screen.

Hiperpool wanted to explore what makes interviewing with a startup different—and how to prepare for it. So, we reached out to a number of high-growth startups and combined our own experiences in helping thousands of candidates through interviews to compile this essential guide. Our findings have been divided into the following sections:

  1. General overview: What makes startups different?
  2. Before the interview: Background research and prep
  3. During the interview: General, questions to expect, to ask and other
  4. After the interview: Thank-you notes and follow up


The startup interview process doesn’t fall too far from an established firm and typically includes an initial phone call, a take-home assignment and in-person interviews. Two key elements that separate interviewing with startups from the corporate world are the emphasis placed on cultural fit and the ability to adapt to a high-growth, ambiguous environment.

  • Cultural fit: A great deal of significance
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