3 ways to nail your first scaleup interview

18 Mar 2019

In a world where personality and mindset hold equal (if not more) weight than your skills and experience, impressing a startup recruiter can be a daunting process.   In addition to being prepared to talk about your skills using the STAR method, you’ll be expected to be demonstrate how you adapt and grow.

“Working in a scaleup business is very, very different than traditional corporate environment,” says Trent Innes, Managing Director of Xero in Australia and Asia. “You’ve got to be ready to showcase a growth mindset and be able to think about not just what I’m doing today but where I’m going to go in the future.”

Not sure how to get started? Never fear! We chatted to Melbourne scaleup recruiters about how develop an interviewing style that will land you the job:

Align your answers with the organisation’s values and mission

In scaling businesses, a values-driven team that is working towards the same unified vision is imperative. As Envato’s Talent Attraction Manager Raquel Lemon explains: “We are a values-led organisation, not only because it ensures that we’re on the same page and helps give us a common vision to work towards, but because studies are increasingly showing that millennials want purpose-driven work.”

Do your research and learn your jargon so that you can enter the interview process with responses that align with the mission of the company.

For example, if you’re interviewing at Envato, ensure you’re ready to talk about outcomes you’ve achieved in your career to align with their ‘focus on results’. Over the road, Zendesk recruiters ‘look for people that care about other people – the unique trait that permeates through day-to-day work and relationships.’ Also, don’t be afraid to share your volunteering positions or family responsibilities as a way to showcase your humanity and curiosity.

A lack of curiosity killed the cat

“Growth mindset” may be the startup buzzword of the year, but it’s also the trait most scaleup recruiters prioritise. After all, if you aren’t dedicated to evolving within an ever-evolving business, a scaleup environment is probably not for you.

“It’s not about matching perfectly what exists today,” says Redbubble’s Talent Director, Michael Kyle. “We want people who fail like they mean it. We’re always looking at what a person can bring that doesn’t already exist, and we want our employees to have this forward-thinking mindset too.”

Be ready to weave examples of continuous learning into your answers – your career progression, micro-credentials, meetups and any study you’ve pursued to better yourself. Let your interviewer in on the risks that you’ve taken – in your career or personal life – and what you did, what you learned and what you’d do differently next time.

And don’t be afraid to share outside experiences; learning how to bake the perfect cake or a musical instrument also demonstrates a growth mindset.


Bring your whole self to work

We often avoid sharing our hobbies with potential employers, as they seem trivial or insignificant in the world of our career. But “these are all things we will look at and take into account” says Zendesk’s Senior Technical Recruiter Tyler Anderson.

Are you an avid tennis player? Are you in a band? Do you run a bird-watching club? Each anecdote brings with it a host of real human qualities: an ability to try new things, autonomy, diverse interests, energy, an affinity for team work or leadership.

Be sure to reflect on what you’re curious about in your personal and professional life.

“One thing I would call out to anyone that’s looking to actually apply to work at Zendesk is be yourself,” says one of the software scaleup’s recruiters. “Zendesk is not looking for a mould. Don’t try to be something that you think we want.

“We actually just want you.”

Watch these videos to learn more about what Zendesk, Redbubble and Envato look for in candidates.

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