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So you’ve got a foot in the door and secured an interview at a promising startup. Just as your potential employer is assessing you, this is a good time for you to assess if the company is a good fit. We went through this Quora post for some brilliant questions to get you started.
1) What will the company look like in a year from any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
“You’d be surprised how well you can discriminate a team that has true vision and their act together from one that doesn’t just by the answer here. Is it rambling? It is delusional? Does it all make sense and tie to the data and learnings you have so far?” – Jason M. Lemkin (Investor & Founder Champion at SaaStr Fund)
2) How about in five years?
3) What do I need to accomplish in my first 90 to 120 days to be a success and have an impact?
“You’d be surprised how many hirers can’t answer this question. They just want to fill a slot. Is that all you want? Or do you want to have an impact? If it’s a great opportunity, they’ll know exactly how someone great (a great sales rep, a great engineer, a great customer success officer) can move the needle — at least some needle — and make an impact within 90 days.” – Jason M. Lemkin (Investor & Founder Champion at SaaStr Fund)
4) What kind of people succeed at your company?
5) How big is the market for the product? How fast is it growing? Is it a stable market or so cutting edge that nobody recognizes it’s even a market?
6) Does the company have plans to enter new markets? If so, what are they and what is the timescale?
7) Which markets will I be working in, and what are the biggest opportunities and challenges?
Product, product differentiation, and competition
8) How developed is the product?
9) How is the product going to change? How will the product evolution affect my job scope?
10) Product-wise, what are the biggest challenges?
11) Who are the biggest competitors and how are they doing?
“If there are no competitors, ask why. It could be a sign that there isn’t a market. Or you could be tapping into a new market, gaining first-mover advantage. If the startup is going head to head against an established company, it may be tough. Or could signal that the company could be a good acquisition target. Impressive market competition can validate, or kill, a startup.” – Mira Zaslove, Product manager at Cisco
12) What sets your company apart in the market? Why do consumers choose your product over the competition?
13) What are the key metrics for success in the next six to 12 months?
“Startups need very well-defined goals. This question is intended to narrow down on specific metrics or targets that the startup is aiming to achieve in the relatively near future. The intent here is to understand whether those metrics exist, how they’ll be measured, and whether they’re reasonable. Ultimately those are the metrics that all employees should be judged against.” -Rohit Sharma (Founder, Career Dost)
14) Are you profitable?
15) How much investment has your company received so far? How much runway do you have left? What is the burn rate?
16) Who are the investors? Do they take an active role?
17) How is my compensation structured? What kind of options are available?
Ability to scale
18) How will your company scale as it grows? Does it have the infrastructure in place to take advantage of the opportunity?
Growth plans and exit
19) What is your growth rate?
20) What are the top three issues preventing you from achieving your growth targets?
“The answer should be clear, comprehensive, well thought-out, and most importantly, honest. If you detect any sense of obfuscation or any kind of smoke and mirrors tactics in their answer, run.” -David Fallarme (Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot)
21) What would a successful exit look like?
22) What is the attrition rate at your company?
23) When people leave, where do they go?
24) How are decisions made?
“Often, you hear from startups that everyone has a say, but you need to dig deeper into how the final decision gets made. It’s not a democracy and you can’t design by committee. Ask them to give an example of conflict and how they resolved it.” -Pradeep Padala (Head of Cloud Infrastructure, Cisco Jasper)
25) Why is the current role open? Have other people held the role and left? If so, why?
26) What kind of problems do you typically get to solve?
27) What does the day-to-day work look like for this role?
28) What were the biggest challenges for those who have held this position?
29) How will performance be assessed?
30) How do you onboard an employee?
31) What does the office look like at 8pm?
32) How often does the team have lunch together?
33) When was the last time members of the team met after work? What was the occasion?
34) Would you want your best friend to join this startup?
35) What do you not like about working here?
36) What opportunities are there for personal growth and development?
We would like to thank the following Quora contributors whose responses contributed to this article: Jason M. Lemkin (Investor & Founder Champion at SaaStr Fund), Mira Zaslove (Product Manager at Cisco), David Fallarme (Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot), Garion Hall (Creative Director at abbywinters.com), Rohit Sharma (Founder, Career Dost), Kartik Ayyar (Machine Learning Engineer at Google), and Pradeep Padala (Head of Cloud Infrastructure, Cisco Jasper).
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