Friday, November 02, 2012

The Reverse Job Interview

Recently, a friend asked me what sort of things they should ask prospective employers when considering the increasingly rare job offer. Here's what I suggested: (While these are aimed primarily at start-ups, they are useful for nearly any tech job opportunity)

Standard Financial Stuff for Start-Ups
  • How much cash do you have in the bank?
  • What is your burn rate?
  • How much cash have you spent so far?
  • How much cash have your investors committed in total? What's left to draw down?
  • How many rounds of funding have been accepted?
  • What's the current equity structure of the company?
  • Are you profitable, and if not, what is the path/time to profitability?
  • What is the current, post-money valuation of the company?
  • Who are the primary VCs or investors?
  • How active are they in managing their investment, and how does that activity manifest? (regular board meetings? daily phone calls? quarterly reviews? person on-site? etc.)
  • What is the expected exit strategy?
  • Timeline for exit?
  • Why did the VCs invest in you?
  • Why will they continue to invest?
  • What do the VCs see as the primary assets of the company?
  • What is your business model?
  • Who do you think your competitors are?
  • What advantages do you have over other competitors in the space? (and vice versa)
  • Why do you think that advantage or business is defensible from existing or new competitors?
  • What are the company's success metrics? How do you know you are succeeding or failing?
  • What's the plan for this week? What about next month? In 6 months?
  • What previous experience do the senior management team (CXO-level folks or other "person in charge of stuff" roles) have?
  • How do they know each other? How long have they been working together?
  • Have any of them ever shipped/launched anything?
  • What previous exit experience do they have? Did they sell a company before?
  • Who's in charge, and how do they communicate their vision to the team?
  • What's missing from the product today?
  • Why is or isn't it already successful?
  • You have made a very big bet on ___. What will you do if ___ changes?
  • Describe how your product is made. Are you using Agile or Scrum or a similar process?
  • How many employees do you have, in how many offices, in how many locations?
  • Are you hiring right now? How much growth has the company had in the last 3-6 months, and how much do they anticipate in the next 3-6 months?
  • What are typical office hours? 
  • If longer than typical Bay Area 9a-6p, why, and how frequently?
  • How do you evaluate whether or not I am doing a good job? 
  • Job Title
  • Responsibilities (in general)
  • Expected daily/weekly tasks
  • Who do I report to? Where does this job sit in the org structure?
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Vacation time
What do you expect me to do?
  • What tasks will I have on day 1?
  • Why do you want to hire me instead of someone else?
  • What do you think I will add to the company to improve chances of success?
Companies may not be willing to answer all of these, but what they answer and how they answer should help you get a feel for things there.


PlugNPlay said...

Dude! Awesome post!

The light-grey font is hard to read in Chrome.

You need to be on Quora.

Anu said...

Thank you, PnP. I had some bad formatting (originally wrote those questions in a different app, then pasted them in). Should be resolved now.