Positioning large enterprise experience when interviewing with a startup
Question: “Somer, I’ve always been in large enterprise companies but in divisions where I created significant transformation in a scrappy manner. How can I share this experience as valuable in an interview with a startup?” ~VP Product
Approach this with a conversational lens.
1. Call it out. It’s on their mind. “When I joined X company, believe me, I thought they were large, bureaucratic… right? This is what surprised me…”
2. Expect that the startup’s role has more breadth with fewer resources. Balance the conversation between now and your holistic background. Versatility matters.
3. Think about this: Is your current role utilizing all of your strengths?
4. Share where you are in the org chart so they can place you. Otherwise you’re in a sea of tens of thousands.
5. Talk about the scrappiness of your team. What did you start with? What tasks did you do that a typical person with your title wouldn’t touch?
6. Where did you set strategy? How? Many times, the concern is that things are handed to you.
7. Share how you got things done and that they actually got done. If you feel you’d tweak something about this process, tell the interviewer and ask for their reaction.
8. Show personality, passion & humility
After posting this to LinkedIn, I received these additions worth adding:
#6) Talk about how you’ve been in large organizations, but were in specific teams that were in significant growth mode, but with limited resources. Therefore, you saw the best of both worlds. How to grow a “startup” while ensuring that the right processes and systems were being developed to scale it at the appropriate time.
#7) Vision is a key part of the strategy. Scale does not matter if there is no clear vision for the product. If 300 engineers (for example) are moving in 30 different directions, then they are pretty much equivalent to 10 engineers in a start-up moving in a cohesive, single direction.