As a VC, I try to understand what's really happening behind the scenes at start-ups from a similar perspective. And I need to find out quickly.
I've learned you can can find out a lot about the real prospects of a prospective company, that you can't otherwise scour from the web or from standard interview Q&A, from just two slightly (only slightly) nonstandard questions:
#1. What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue? You'd be surprised how well you can discriminate a team that has true vision and their act together from one that doesn't just by the answer here. Is it rambling? It is delusional? Does it all make sense and tie to the data and learnings you have so far?
Take it out more than a year, it's just Powerpoint-level. Take it in 90 days, that's just tomorrow.
But you're being hired really to make an impact 9-12 months out. The answer will help you learn a lot.
#2. What do I need to accomplish in my first 90-120 days to be a success and have an impact? You'd be surprised how many hirers can't answer this question. They just want to fill a slot. Is that all you want? Or do you want to have an impact? If it's a great opportunity, they'll know exactly how someone great (a great sales rep, a great engineer, a great customer success) can move the needle — at least some needle — and make an impact within 90 days.
And if you listen a lot to these answers, I think you'll also get a sense of the inherent quality of the company beyond what you can tell from AngelList and TechCrunch.
Go Columbo style. Ask these two leading questions.
They work for me.
This question originally appeared on Quora:
More from Quora:
- When should a startup get acquired?
- What are the best ways to answer the question, "Tell me something about yourself?"
- May I reject questions during a job interview?