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Interviewing for a startup vs an MNC



Nishant Chandra - co-founder, Newton School


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Job seekers must research and learn everything they can about the company they have been invited to interview.

Whether a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, job seekers are often unsure about opting for a role with stability at an MNC or high pay scale at a startup. ​Once an industry term for small businesses, startups now refer to a fascinating entrepreneurial culture that an increasing number of college graduates are choosing. To add on to it, the growing number of startups has wholly transformed the job market, making the decision even more difficult. However, in terms of job security, a typical corporation will probably provide stability, perks, and structure that many crave.

This article explains the substantive difference between a startup and a corporate position and how you should prepare for an interview with them.

Who is the Interviewer:

Multinational companies commonly have full-fledged human resource departments. As a result, interviews to fill any vacancy consist of multiple rounds and are likely to be conducted by HR professionals initially and subject-matter experts at a later stage. Many companies even hire third-party recruiters to interview candidates on their behalf.

On the contrary, at startups, job applicants are likely to be interviewed by someone at the top of the company's hierarchy, such as the CEO. This is often the final stage, and the interviewing authority is eager to learn how you can add value to their organisation.

Areas of focus:

Big organisations typically pay careful attention to the interviewee's technical skills and level of professionalism. These companies are looking for specialists who are a perfect fit for the job opening. As a result, the recruiters will be particularly interested in your experience, training, and how your previous roles have equipped you to fit into a company of their magnitude.

Startups focus on your ability to fit into the workplace because the company's organizational values require that the new hire gels well with the existing staff. Startups also require that employees perform their various roles with minimal supervision and hence prefer self-starters.

Duration of interviews:

It is prevalent for job applicants to go through several stages of interviews before receiving a job offer from a large firm. They put candidates through multiple interviews before finalising the right choice as they have clearly defined roles, so finding the best fit takes time. In fact, these businesses interview and screen applicants for approximately 30 days.

This is in stark contrast to startups with a relatively short interview-to-hire process at around 15 days. They typically have shorter cycles because the hiring decisions are made by the organization's founders or CEOs themselves post conducting the interview. In addition, a quick interview process allows them to quickly bring on additional assistance to their fast-paced work culture.

Candidate participation:

In most cases, job interviews at well-known companies turn the interviewee into a passive player. Simply respond to the streamlined questions posed by the board of interviewers and wait for a prompt to ask any follow-up queries at the end of the interview.

Interviews at startups are generally less formal than those at big organizations. The interviewer may ask you some questions about the company before allowing you to nudge the conversation about adding value to the startup. As a result, you will be more active as well as involved during a startup interview.

While the above variations are not set in stone, they do provide an overview of how the two entities approach interviewing potential candidates. Finally, being aware of these critical differences will improve your chances of getting hired. Do your research and learn everything you can about the company you have been invited to interview. This preparation will guide you through the various aspects of the interview. It may also be beneficial to speak with an HR expert and practice mock interviews for tailored advice to master the right impression as you transition from an MNC to a startup or vice versa.