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Interviewing With a Startup? Here Are a Few Signs It Might Succeed

There is so much to think about during the interview stage of the job search process. But there’s even more to consider if you’re thinking about working for a startup.
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Working for a startup can be really exciting, but it can also feel a little risky. Just about half of all small businesses fail within the first four years. So, if you’re preparing to interview with a startup, you’re likely wondering if the company has a good chance of making it or not. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. However, there are a few crucial factors that you should consider:

1. Short-term past is a good predictor of short-term future

The scary thing about working for a startup is that you can’t look to years of history to help you feel secure. However, the short-term past of the company is often a fair predictor of the short-term future. You might not know exactly where the company will be in ten years based on their first two, but you should be able to say something about what’s likely to happen next.

The scary thing about working for a startup is that you can’t look to years of history to help you feel secure. However, the short-term past of the company is often a fair predictor of the short-term future.Click To Tweet

Be sure to ask for this kind of information before you accept the job. You should also do some research on your own to determine how the business, and the related industry, is changing in your area. PayScale’s Research Center is a great place to start.

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2. Look at the leadership

The person or people in charge of an organization have a tremendous amount of influence. Their abilities, and their attitude and leadership style, will most likely have a pretty significant impact on the company’s success or failure. Many of the top reasons that small businesses fail are tied to the performance of these individuals. Forty-six percent of small business failures are linked to incompetence. And the second leading cause is “unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience” at 30 percent.

You are going to want to pay close attention to the leaders of the startup during the interview process. Are they experienced? Do they seem competent? Finally, ask yourself if the leadership team feels like a good fit for you personally. What works for one might not be best for another.

3. They offer a standard salary

“Be concerned about commission-only deals, or compensation that is very high in stock options and very low on cash,” startup consultant Tommi Wolfe told CBSNews.

You should beware of any job offer that sounds either too good to be true or more like a volunteer opportunity than an actual job. A company that already has validated customers and is also cash conservative has a better chance of making it. And they’ll be prepared to offer you an actual salary that is comparable to what you’d earn somewhere else. If a startup is well-funded, they’ll offer you a standard salary.

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Are you thinking about taking a job at a startup? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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