- If you’re looking to land a job, you may have to answer some tough interview questions.
- Insider asked the most popular startups their most unique questions and how to answer them.
- The Cameo celebrity personalized message app asks candidates to draw their life in the form of a river.
- Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.
If you want to land a job at a competitive startup, you’ll likely have to answer some tough interview questions.
Startups want to see that you are creative and will bring a new perspective to the team, which is why they can often ask unique questions during the interview process.
LinkedIn released its annual list of the top startups in 2021, featuring 50 emerging and growing companies in the US. The list was compiled based on factors including interest in the company, job growth, engagement with employees, job interest, and ability to attract talent from top LinkedIn companies or companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet.
Collectively, the companies are hiring for more than 3,000 jobs right now, so job seekers may want to consider looking at them for employment opportunities. But they will also have to do their homework. These startups ask job candidates questions you may never have answered before, from describing your life as a river to the title of your TED Talk.
We take a look at some of the unexpected questions Linkedin’s hottest startups of the past two years ask job candidates, and what companies say they’re looking for in response.
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
Sana Benefits is a health insurance company.
Q: Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. Think about your past experiences, the role we’re hiring for, the case study, your interviews with our team. Can you give me 1-2 reasons why we should NOT hire you?
AN: “Are they able to honestly reflect and think critically about their own areas of development and possible perceived weaknesses, and articulate it well? While there are no right or wrong answers to this question, a potential red flag is someone who can’t answer with an answer or an answer comes up that is clearly trying to mask a strength as a weakness. If someone is clearly trying to mask a strength as a weakness, I will call them and ask them to try again.
For each reason, I look for candidates who provide a counter reason why we should hire them. Again, there are no right or wrong answers, but you are looking to understand if they have a growth mindset around their areas of development. If you think we might not hire you because you don’t have prior healthcare experience, how would you address that concern head-on?” – Andrew Fitch, Vice President of Operations
Cameo is a video sharing website.
Q: If you could draw your life in the shape of a river, what would it be like?
AN: “With this question, Cameo CEO Steven Galanis seeks to get to know candidates in 20 minutes as if he had worked with them for 20 years. Steven’s goal is to understand where candidates come from, the different experiences that have shaped into their lives and get an idea of where they ultimately want to go.
Better.com is a homeowner and mortgage servicing company.
Q: We know you have accomplished a lot. What have you not been able to achieve in your current employer that you want to achieve?
AN: “Our best candidates can articulate insights about the context in which they have operated, their character in resolving differences in strategy and execution with others, and their level of confidence in driving toward a better solution. One candidate was able to share a disagreement they had had with their CEO, what they uniquely learned about Better through their journey with us, and how they’d like to leverage their learnings about what hadn’t worked for their previous clients to articulate how to grow our partnership channels they told us they were insightful and adaptable, but also eager to make something unique happen from the ground up.” – Arthur Matuszewski, Vice President of Talent Acquisition
FIG is a modern advertising agency.
Q: If we were to provide you with a three-month paid sabbatical that you were to use immediately, what skill(s) would you choose to learn during your leave to improve your professional skills and help our local community?
AN: “We are looking for people with curiosity, ambition and creativity, with a large dose of humanity. We are not looking for a specific answer to the question but to learn what moves that person. And what we’re eager to discover in the ensuing conversation is how the candidate’s natural curiosity and creativity will come to life. What do they want to learn? What do they long to discover, for themselves and/or for their community. We also look for the humanity of people: at FIG we believe that your work life and your personal life are not separate, they represent your wholeness, and we encourage divergent and diverse perspectives to create outstanding communications for our clients.” – Judith Carr-Rodriguez, Partner and CEO
Modern Health is a mental health app.
Q: If you could give a TED talk, what would the title be?
AN: “I’m asking this question to better understand someone’s deepest passions and/or unique perspective, background, or experience they’ve been through (work-related or otherwise). Since we’re always looking to expand the diversity of candidates to our teams to contribute complementary skill sets, talents, and viewpoints.This question helps fill in the traditional “tell me about a time when…” or scenario-based interview questions typical of the interview process.– Jackie Lamping , marketing director
Trella Health is a healthcare data analytics company.
Q: If you were a Microsoft Office product, which one would you be and why?
AN: “There is no right or wrong answer. The answer usually provides information about the interviewee’s personality and work style that is difficult to obtain otherwise. For example, a candidate once told me that she would choose Word, and part of her answer included an anecdote about how rigid she is in her approach to tasks, and compared it to how difficult it is to format Word. It can give you an idea of how a person organizes their thoughts and approach to work.”
Dutchie is a cannabis delivery company.
Q: What is your morning routine?
AN: “By asking about a candidate’s morning routine, we hope to gain insight into the ways in which the individual creates structures for their own success. What they do is not important, we want to understand why they do it. It helps to discover how the candidate sets priorities, how you measure your own success, and begin to understand what motivates the candidate to take action. This helps us assess how successful the candidate could be in a freelance environment like ours. Dutchie aims to hire people with a wide variety of backgrounds. past experiences, and his morning routine gives us a little glimpse into his thought process and individual approach to the day.”
Loom is a video messaging company.
Q: How do you handle apologies, either giving them or accepting them?
AN: “We look for candidates who exemplify one of our five cultural values: growth through empathy. How someone can give or receive an apology is critical to building a high-functioning team in a fast-paced environment. The ability to let go negative feelings and instead focusing on personal growth is critical to being a great teammate.”
Harness is a software distribution company.
Q: Which of our eight company values relates most to you?
AN: “Our Harness Core Values are not just theoretical beliefs, but reflect our company’s vision, direction and mission. When candidates personally identify one or more of our Core Values that speak directly to them, it allows us to understand how they share those values.” same values.as our organization and how they would or would not fit into our workplace.Ultimately, we are looking for responses from candidates that align with our culture of transparency and accountability, diversity of thought, and inclusion of people from different walks of life . .” – Luan Lam, Vice President of Global Talent
Brex is a technology and financial services company.
Q: The CEO has asked you to come up with a plan for how the company should respond to COVID. How would you respond? What investments would you make? What trade-offs need to be taken into account?
AN: “A great answer to this question has three elements: it identifies the business goals, clarifies the constraints, and provides a framework that underpins the final recommendation. We’ve seen a variety of effective frameworks, and good candidates will break down each step and make well-thought-out assumptions even when data is missing Regardless of the exact role, this question is particularly useful for seeing how candidates bring structure to an ambiguous question – a crucial skill in a startup!
Verkada is a start-up security company.
Q: If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why? The answers to this question often tell you about an individual’s general demeanor as well as what they will be like as a trader.
AN: “We look for candidates who are ambitious, unafraid of challenges, and entrepreneurial and collaborative who enjoy problem solving, so this question can have many different answers that help show why someone is a fit for Verkada. For example You could say you would be a honey bee because you work tirelessly and believe that everyone has a part to play in the success of your hive.”
Gong is a computer software company.
Q: What do you know about me?
A: “The best sales reps will know a lot about you, the hiring manager. They’ve done their research beforehand. People who aren’t cut out to see deals through to closing will miss this. Research Failure is a blatant red flag Selling is about knowing your audience, and a strong candidate will have done their homework You need to know more than just statistics about your company You need to know who you’re dealing with before entering the interview. It will also tell you what kind of information they think is important and where they get the information from.”
An earlier version of this story was published in October 2020.