There are numerous questions on this site regarding questions to ask a potential employer during an interview. However, I was wondering if there were specific questions that should be asked when having an interview at a small start up? Working at a new start-up is different from any employer I've had to date, and I wanted to know if there was anything that one should consider asking the CEO and CTO of a start-up during an interview.

I'll be interviewing for a statistician/analyst position.


I've had two one hour phone conversations with both the CEO and CTO. These weren't referred to as interviews, but we talked about why I wanted to work there, how my skills could contribute to the company, and so on. We also talked about some things on my resume, including my education, work experience, and programming knowledge. After the second phone talk, they bought me a plane ticket to fly out to their company, which is headquartered in a different state. I assume they wouldn't fly me out to their company in a different state if I wasn't a serious candidate.

  • 6
    "I'll be interviewing for a statistician/analyst position." - what are the odds that you'll get the job? :D May 8, 2011 at 5:55
  • @Steven see my edit
    – ATMathew
    May 8, 2011 at 18:30
  • "Maybe we can go to the local playground with our children on weekend? They have some new toys there" May 8, 2011 at 21:21
  • 1
    Nice edit, though I think @Steven's question was meant to be a little joke. ;)
    – user541686
    May 8, 2011 at 23:54
  • 1
    @Mehrdad: chances are, you're right ;-) May 9, 2011 at 1:16

3 Answers 3

  1. how do you see my position adding value to your business plans?
  2. are we fully funded, and for how long?
  3. would you like to hear some ideas how I can help speed things up, make you more money, streamline the path to profitability, etc.?
  • +1 for how will I add value, if they can't answer that I would be very concerned. May 8, 2011 at 0:03
  • 2
    3, of course, is only worth asking if you have germane answers!! May 8, 2011 at 4:56
  1. What is your business plan and can I see a copy of it?
  2. How much funding do you currently have and what is your plan if growth is more than expected?
  3. Can I see your CV and previous start-up experience

These 3 will get a good conversation going!

  • 6
    excellent questions, if you don't want the job... May 7, 2011 at 21:50
  • 5
    Correct: if they can't or won't answer questions like that, then you don't want the job. May 7, 2011 at 22:25
  • That's the exact reason to ask those questions. How much fun would it be to start a job in a company with only three months of life left? May 7, 2011 at 22:29
  • I haven't looked at their business plan or their CV's, but both founder have an extensive history with start-ups and have established some big name companies. I've had two lengthy phone talks with them, but now they are flying me in for an interview.
    – ATMathew
    May 7, 2011 at 23:02
  • @Carson question 1 is a great question if you are an investor; question 2 is an excellent question but 'none of your business' is also an appropriate answer; question 3 is a great question if you are an investor, but somewhat presumptuous for a potential employee. However, said potential employee should absolutely do his/her due diligence before the interview May 8, 2011 at 4:24

Steven A. Lowe and ennuikiller both raised some good questions; however, one that I like to ask is the following:

What direction do you want to take the company?

By this I mean, do they plan on taking the company to an IPO, continue to be small but with good revenue stream, or do they want to try and get on the Fortune 1000 list within a defined amount of time, or sell it to the first person that offers them enough money for it. Depending upon how they respond to the question so red flags could be raised (i.e. "We don't have a firm long term plan yet") or it might be a situation where you need to look at your own personal thoughts in regards to the company (i.e. "We are looking for a buyer.") since their plans might be a sign of how hard they want work for the company and how long the job might be around for.

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