Planning to join a startup? Perhaps, I can help….


Planning to join a startup? Perhaps, I can help….

Notes from an entrepreneur. [ Day 9 of “One Day, One Blog”]

While we have people from our Prime Minister to organizations like NASSCOM making all the right noises about creating the next generation of entrepreneurs, the nextgen themselves are confused. If you look at the graduating crowd from colleges, there is only a small segment that wants to actively pursue Entrepreneurship. Then why, the students’ wonder, are they forcing entrepreneurship down our throat.

And in my experience, it is not just the students who have this doubt. Many parents and teachers have asked me the same question.

While I am by no means ignoring the necessity of SMEs and the role they play in a capital-scarce economy like ours, I don’t think that you should go down the “startup route” unless you have the passion and conviction for it. Having said that here is why I think nurturing entrepreneurship mindset is important in colleges. Even schools, perhaps.

In the changing economic climate even our MNCs — where most of our graduates aspire to reach — need to be able to respond to change fast. And the only way they can achieve the same if they have both leaders and employees with the entrepreneurial mindset.

As a startup co-founder, when I recruit for my team I am always on the look-out for someone with the said mindset.

This is what I usually see in a candidate with the entrepreneurial mindset:-

  • Their sense accountability will be high

Individuals with the entrepreneurial mindset will tend to look upon the company ( or at least their team) as their own — even if they are the junior-most person in the team. You will never find them making statements like, “ That’s not my job OR this is not part of my JD”. When a screw up happens, they will not pass the buck and stand aside. Even if someone else has dropped the ball, they will jump in to limit the damages

  • Ambiguity does not cause them discomfort

Ambiguity is the way of life in a startup. People who thrive in such circumstances are an asset for any company. People with this trait approach any problem or situation with an open mind. They are not too worried that they many not know the solution. In the worst case scenario, they are confident that they will at least learn something valuable

  • Their “learning mode” is constantly ON

They view the world with a high level of curiosity. They soak in knowledge. They don’t let go of any opportunity that will help them gain experience. This kind of growth mindset truly sets them apart from the competition.

  • They are good at “Sales”

When I tell students that everyone should know how to sell, I get very dubious looks. But when you sit in front of an interviewer ( be it on your campus or later in life) what do you think you are doing? You are selling your skills!

Also, this does not mean that the person has to be an extrovert. Or someone who talks non-stop. On the contrary, people who listen more have better sales skills.

So how does this translate to questions, in a face to face interview?

Disclaimer — What I am giving here is just a small spectrum of questions that can be asked to arrive at a conclusion. I am not an HR Manager.I have arrived at these questions based on my experience as a functional manager who recruits.

For tech Roles:-

If you are a fresher, questions can be based on how you handled your final year project, any issues that cropped up and how you overcame the same. Perhaps the interviewer can start with the choice of your project itself — to see if you go for easy options or innovative ones.

If you are being interviewed for a senior role, the choices of questions are much more — For example, the recruiter could ask you how you managed a crisis that came up at the time of a version release? a teammate who quit at a critical moment? How you may have handled a cross-functional issue. If they cannot draw from your resume, they would present hypothetical situations and test your responses. From my personal experience, I can say that senior managers who cannot adapt to change are a big No-No for us.

There may be genuine cases when something went wrong and it was someone else’s fault. But you need to present it in a way without blaming the other person. What you learned from the situation is more important than who made the mistake.

For non-tech roles:-

In this scenario, questions could range from events that you have organized to funds raised for specific causes. Your quest for learning could be tested by checking what you have learned in addition to your curriculum.

If you are being interviewed for a sales or relationship role, then they could even try role plays. ( When we recruited our HR manager, we made her conduct a mock interview)

I am not providing these suggestions so that you can try and hoodwink the interviewer. Trust me, you will not be very successful at that. But I have noticed that a bit of preparation helps us put the best foot forward.

All the best for your career 🙂

(Ps: After writing this blog, I was still reading up on the topic in an attempt to add more meat. I came upon this HBR article which agrees with some of my recommendations but takes it to another level altogether. If anyone here is a recruiter for Leadership roles you may find it useful.)

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — –

Friends, this is the Day 9 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog

If you have liked this article, please do hit the ❤ so that it will help others discover this article. Thanks much!

About the author

Ruby Peethambaran

Add Comment

Ruby Peethambaran


Get in touch

I have enjoyed reading and writing ever since I could read and write. I have been told that my words inspire and help people. That gives me the courage to write more.
If my words help you in any way to better your life, I will consider that a blessing.