5 Key Differences Between Interviewing for a Startup Vs Established Companies

RecruitGyan Blog | Medium | 10/3/19

Are you one of those fresh graduates who are torn between the promise of a startup and the security of an established company? You are not alone. Currently, almost 50% of millennials work for a startup and the other 50% work for big corporate behemoths. Both are very different. Your choice of company can impact all aspects of your career prospects — even how you approach job search and interviews. When people try to switch from working for corporations to startups (and vice versa), they often fail to get the job because they don’t recognize the difference between interviewing for either one.

With this, how should you approach interviewing for a startup or an established company? In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between the two and how you should prepare appropriately when you are going for an interview at a startup or corporate role.

Who Conducts the Interview

Established companies often have fully-fledged HR departments. Consequently, the interviews to fill any available positions are likely to be conducted by experienced HR professionals from that specialty. There are even other companies that may hire third-party recruiters to conduct the interviews on their behalf. You often go through layers upon layers of interviews — from the HR associate who does your initial interview up until the actual manager who you can potentially work for in the future. For instance, Mckinsey, a top consulting company, has a very stringent interview process that involves the HR manager, associate partners, senior partners and even managing directors.

On the other hand, startups, especially the smaller ones, may not have a functional HR department at all. Job seekers are likely to be interviewed by someone high up in the hierarchy of the company, such as the CEO or company president. The opinion formed by that interviewer is likely to play a big role in the hiring decisions. Startups are also unlikely to have an interview panel of many individuals since most employees will be hard at work keeping the company functional and moving. For example, start-up online retailer Boxed’s founder Chieh Huang would still personally interview positions for every job candidate himself even as the company brings in $100 million per year in revenue. Like established companies, there are some startups that hire outside recruiters to interview prospects for them.

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By MIT Sloan CDO