5 Ways to Prepare for an Off-the-Wall Interview


Within fast growing companies like tech startups, the need for additional manpower can arise at a moment’s notice. This makes the traditional interview process somewhat challenging, and many innovative companies opt for a style of interviewing that enables them to quickly assess whether there is a mutual fit — a practice that is valuable for both the company and the candidate in the long-run.

Rather than concentrating on candidates’ specific experience or knowledge, some companies actually provide short projects or assignments to assess how candidates approach tasks. Often, the focus here is on collaboration, projects for which there is no “right” or “wrong” solution and assessing how the candidate utilizes creative problem-solving skills.

Other unconventional interview methods involve role-playing. For example, hiring managers might ask a candidate to convince them what’s better — a Mac or a PC. Then they’ll ask the person to switch roles and sell them the other option as the better choice; this allows companies to see how well a candidate can shift mindsets when required.

These types of challenging, task-oriented interviews immerse candidates in the company culture and give hiring managers a real feel for how the applicant would perform as a part of the team. If you’re looking for a position in a dynamic, creative or technical industry, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter such an interview over the course of your job search.

I’ve pooled resources from my personal experiences as the CEO and founder of Taboola, as well as insight from Joe Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Contently, to nail down some tips for job seekers looking to break into the startup space.

Here are five key tips for how you can plan ahead to nail even the most unexpected interview experience.

1. Prepare a list of bold, tough and relevant questions

Especially in interviews at tech startups, hiring managers learn a lot about candidates by the questions they ask. Original questions based on topics you care about will help employers assess how you think, what concerns you, what excites you and what inspires you. The more original these questions are, the more a company can learn about what makes you tick.

Don’t start with the obvious questions such as “Can you describe a typical work week?” or “What is the company’s management style?” Instead, ask relevant — even tough — questions. Be bold and try asking some out-of-the-box questions like “What do you do for fun when you’re not recommending content?” or “Why the name Taboola? Is it named after a salad?”

These types of questions help hiring managers get to know you more thoroughly, and the responses will give you a feel for the personality of the company.

2. Be a user of the company’s product, and come prepared with feedback

If the company you’re interviewing with has products that are currently on the market, get to know them inside and out. Don’t rely on research alone; if possible, actually use them first-hand so you gain a good understanding of both the product and the mindset of the company.

For the interview, prepare some specific details you can mention about your experience with the product — and don’t be afraid to also mention a feature that could be enhanced or eliminated. This will showcase that you are innovative and pay attention to detail.

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Source: Mashable | ADAM SINGOLDA

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