How to get hired at a startup!

Being Relentless

For last couple of weeks, I have been interviewing 5-7 candidates every day for different full time roles and internship positions at Internshala. Yesterday, one of the candidates asked me a question that helped me put in words what I instinctively knew. His question was –

What would you expect from me if I were offered the role at Internshala?

This was the first time ever I was asked this question. As I gathered my thoughts, I realized that the answer pretty much sums up what I look for (or should look for) in a candidate before hiring him or her. There are three qualities I hope to find in abundance in every team member who gets to work at Internshala –

Humility

What it means – You carry no chip on your shoulder and no task is beneath you. You believe in the dignity of work and do not hesitate in doing things that are either boring (filling up forms), menial (cleaning up the place), or repetitive (data entry) because it just needs to get done.

Why it is important – We are a star-up and there is LOT of ground work that goes behind the screens to ensure we put up a great show. We are always short of hands and need people who can roll up their sleeves and fight the battle in the trenches (and not in war-rooms) on a daily basis.

What we look for as an evidence – Your family background, how (and where) were you brought up, a volunteer stint in a college fest or with an NGO, or if you have handled operations at a start-up before.

Relentless Pursuit of Excellence

Yes, this one is a combination of two qualities.

What it means – Being ‘relentless’ means that you can work incredibly hard over an extended period of time. You do not take ‘no’ as an answer and go from option a to option b to option c and so on, without getting tired or losing hope, till you achieve what you want.

‘Pursuit of excellence’ means you believe every piece of your work is your mark on the world and you want it to be perfect. You care for the tiniest of the details. If you are writing an email, not a single comma should be amiss. If it were, you would not sleep well in the night. Chalta hai attitude nahin chalega.

Why it is important – At Internshala, you will often work on things which you have not done before, or which are almost impossible to achieve given the limited resources available. Being relentless would ensure that you succeed and pursuit of excellence would ensure that the end product is truly world class and not any half-hearted mediocre output that will not survive the fire of competition.

What we look for as an evidence – An example from your life where you took an initiative (right from the idea stage) and made it into something nice (a club, a start up, a college magazine etc.) despite multiple obstacles, or how much you have excelled in your chosen field of interest (including studies).

These qualities also help create a healthy work environment where people respect each other and learn from each other. Some of the people I admire the most are the people who score very high on both (or rather all 3) parameters.

Often I have found that if a candidate has done a start up before, he/she will have these qualities in abundance and that is the holy grail of any start-up recruitment process – to find such candidates. The converse is not true, however. Just because one has not done a start-up before does not mean he/she is not start-up material and we look for other cues in his/her life story for evidence of the above mentioned traits and are often willing to relax one of the 3 criteria for an internship position just to give you a chance to prove yourself.

So if you are mulling a career at Internshala (we do have some exciting openings!) or any other start-up, ask yourself if you fit the bill. If yes, we (and all the other start ups in the world) are looking for you :).

8 thoughts on “How to get hired at a startup!

  • April 30, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    i’m interested in doing internship

    Reply
  • November 3, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    Hi Team,
    I am an MBA graduate in Operations Management specialized in Supply chain and Minor in HR .I was working with different MNC with 1.7 years of experience in immigration processing.I am currently looking out for a career shift to retail or supply chain , however finding it difficult to find jobs since I do not have experience.Please let me know if there is any internship in supply chain,retail or business analytics .

    Regards
    Devika

    Reply
  • July 20, 2016 at 10:24 PM

    Hi,
    I have not earned experience in any company. I am also going to do masters in technology this year. I want to do some new thing. Learning is more important for me than earning. Is there any start up which can offer me any work beyond college hours?

    Reply

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