Skip to content

← Back to Blog

Startup Interview Questions

Startup interview questions can be hard to answer. Our Head of Ops, Dimity shares her favorite startup interview questions she would personally ask, including preparation tips for the recruitment and selection process.

17 Jan 2022 by Annie Symonds

Since joining Coassemble and the SaaS startup industry in 2017, Dimity has seen it all! Luckily for you, she shares her excellent tips to help you ask the best interview questions to secure the perfect candidate!

With the Great Resignation in full swing and the current challenge of finding top talent in the SaaS startup industry, how can you secure exceptional new employees who will thrive and contribute to your company's growth?

As the talent pool is becoming smaller and smaller, you need to make sure your start up is seen amongst the best in the world. And yes, it can be done! In this guide, Dimity shares everything you need to know about the best interview questions to ask, but also how to be prepared before you start the recruitment and selection process.

Templates: Check out our free Course Templates!

You know, startup Saas company Cliniko had over 5,118 applications while looking to hire four new roles. These roles weren't anything unusual in the job world, so what did they do to make them so desirable?

The key was a combination of job perks, and they almost kept the job spec vague by opening it up to anyone who is interested in learning about PPC, for example. Ultimately they wanted to find someone who had the right attitude they could train up and fit in culturally within the company.

In this guide, we're going to talk about the initial process before you start interviewing potential new employees so you get it right from the beginning as well as nailing those important interview questions.

Let's get a few things straight

Before we dive into Dimity's favorite questions she asks in the interview process, let's help you find the best candidates first, so you're not wasting anyone's time. You also might like to check out our popular guide on the Best Ideas To Improve The Recruitment & Selection Process.

Try Coassemble for FREE today!

Coassemble is the fun, people-friendly, learner-centric, micro course builder you've been looking for.

No credit card required

Understand why you're hiring

One of the main things you need to understand is why you are hiring before going down the recruitment and selection process. As a startup, there will be a million reasons you need to hire staff because resources will always be smaller for a while before the company becomes a success.

As a hiring manager, you'll need to map out why you need to hire and what the role looks like.

Dimity told us that sometimes they might find an absolute superstar they've hired who doesn't fit into the role they were looking for. Instead, they've ended up hiring that person and found a role for them which has turned out to be a great success.

Think about job perks

In these challenging times, your start up will need to stand out in the market, but what will cut through? A fruit basket on a Monday morning is a sign of the times, and with the majority of SaaS companies working from home, you'll need to come up with something a bit more desirable.

When we spoke to Dimity, she told us that she carefully figured out the brand new Coassemble perks program. Understanding that her cohort of colleagues mainly ranges between the ages of 25-45 years old, she knew that travel would be a popular choice for most co-workers.

It was a no-brainer for her to offer a new perks program with an extended two weeks off a year for 'Me Time'. That's right. Two weeks off, so the Coassemble team can travel or do whatever they like as a thank you for the hard work. This is of course, on top of the four weeks off a year the team already has off.

With offices based in Australia in the USA, our team now has 6 weeks paid holiday leave off a year. Standard time off is around 9 days annually for the US team, so this is a huge perk for many.

Let's not forget to throw in the exercise subscription and food allowance so our team can work from home with the perks of staying fit and healthy.

With these perks to go by, Coassemble has already become a desirable place to work without having to come up with a spectacular job description. Of course, we're across how we market each role.

How to write an epic job description

As a startup business, you'll need to go above and beyond by leveling up the job description. No one wants to read a long list of must-haves. Instead, you might like to focus on the culture and what strengths you're looking for to find the best candidates.

So, what qualifies as a good job advertisement?

You might like to set your job descriptions template out by using some of the following ideas:

  1. Summarise what the company is about - this could be the company tag line or pitch.
  2. Mention where the job is located and let the candidate know straight away if you're open to a remote role.
  3. Top three highlights of the company - this could be three things the company has achieved or three best reasons to work there which could relate to culture, perks etc. Remember, you have to sell this role to find the best job seekers.
  4. Talk about the role. Who will the candidate report to, and summarise who they will be working with and what the position requires?
  5. Must Haves! You'll want to list the requirements and skills to win this role (but don't go on and on).
  6. The negotiables! It would help if you had some leeway regarding the recruitment process. List any skills that will be a bonus but not technically necessary to score the role.
  7. Role responsibilities! In more detail, talk about the duties of the role and what a typical day might look like.
  8. Job Perks! Sell the perks of the role to attract candidates. You want to make sure they know they will be valued before they even speak to you in person.
  9. Introduce their reporting manager. Put in a quote from the prospective candidate's manager introducing themselves and what they love doing in their spare time. It's important to know that the manager and new employee will get on.
  10. Talk about the company culture. Does the company actively supports diversity? What are the current employees like as people?
  11. And lastly, mention who are the directors of the company. What is their background, and where have they previously worked? If you're a start up, this will help shape what people are leading the company, primarily if they have worked for some well-known brands in the past.

By using these job description tips, you'll be able to carve out a fantastic hiring process with plenty of excellent job candidates!

Try Coassemble for FREE today!

Coassemble is the fun, people-friendly, learner-centric, micro course builder you've been looking for.

No credit card required

Post it to relevant job sites

In that Cliniko example I mentioned earlier, they stayed away from the popular job sites because they weren't looking for generic candidates. By aligning who they are as a company, they matched the relevant job sites with their brand and looked on sites such as We Work Remotely and Flex Jobs because they wanted to find the best talent worldwide, rather than focus on focusing on one area.

When posting to job sites, Dimity told us that she always makes sure the discrimination boxes are unticked to find talent no matter their ethnicity or gender. If you do this, you'll open up a bigger talent pool and because it's morally right, of course.

Use a recruiter

Working at a start-up requires a small team's time and energy. This means that sometimes you need to move fast with the recruitment and selection process, which can be time-consuming. A way to get around this is to hire a recruiter who can find you the best candidates because sometimes they can be found when the job seeker is in fact, not seeking a job at the time.

Once you've got your recruitment process ready, pop everything into our free Course Builder so you can keep all of your documents in one place before you start interviewing candidates!

Start up interview questions we would personally ask

Now you've nailed the Recruitment Process; it's time to get your start up interview questions ready. As we said, Dimity has seen it all in interviews and can tell within the first 15 minutes whether the interview will be a success.

Her interview process starts by hearing the job seeker's story, their problem-solving skills, before ending on whether they are a good culture fit.

Here are some of her favorite startup interview questions she likes to ask to get to know if she's found the best potential employees.

1. Tell us your story

Might sound like an obvious question in which candidates usually talk about their story in the same way. Most job seekers answer this question in the same format; starting with talking about their current job, then previous job, which Dimity can obviously read in their resume.

But, what she is looking for is their actual story. What brought them to live in a specific town, what is it that made them work for their previous employers that they are now here in this interview wanting to work for Coassemble? This story intrigues her more than someone reciting their resume.

2. How would you explain the business to your Mom?

How would you explain the business to your Mom is a question that throws many people off. Dimity doesn't want to hear that the candidate managed to remember certain buzz words from the website. Instead, she's intrigued to see if they really understand what the business is and why they actually want to work there.

For a candidate, this might be overwhelming and pressure to sell them the company pitch, but it really is clarifying that you have a basic understanding of what we do at Coassemble.

3. Don't ask them what's your biggest weakness question

Every job seeker rolls their eyes at the question of the 'what is your biggest weakness(?)' question. It feels way overdone and a little behind the times regarding the best interview questions to ask. Usually, a candidate will answer with a negative and turn it into a positive... ie "I used to have a messy desk, now I keep it organized so I can keep my head clear and focussed".

Instead, Dimity likes to spin this question on its head and ask about the candidate's negative experiences at work. This is tricky for anyone to answer, but what she's getting at is an understanding that someone can fail with grace and learn to overcome it. Because, when working at a startup, it's clear that it's going to happen to everyone. When you fail, you can only learn more and grow, which is the type of people Coassemble is always looking to hire.

4. What's your favorite app and why?

As a SaaS start up company, Dimity loves to ask about the candidate's favorite app, which can put them off track. At the same time, some job seekers might feel like it's a trick question and needs to answer with an inspiring app choice. The truth is, the more accurate you can be about who you are, the better. She recalled one candidate who said:

My favorite app is Tinder. The swipe right and swipe left was a genius invention.

If you've got something technically good to mention about why you like the app, it shows that you're thinking more about it than through a content perspective and can identify what is good about it.

5.What do you like to do on the weekend?

It's rare not to throw in a question that might not be prepared for some candidates. At Coassemble, it's essential to get the right culture fit and while there's no judgment about what you like to do on the weekend, the question is more designed to learn more about who you are as a person.

Dimity said:

We hire smart, enthusiastic people who want to come on the journey with us as we grow as a company.

6. What can you offer the company?

Every candidate prepares for the following question: 'What can you offer the company?'

This is the question every employer should ask because you want to know what they have in mind to do for you. What are their goals, and what do they want to achieve?

But you know what, the answer doesn't need to be complex. Dimity said:

We have one team member who said they'd make good coffee for the team, and here he is three years on still making damn good coffee for everyone (and much more!).

The truth is, as long as a candidate doesn't come across as egotistical and is a genuine human being who wants to help people succeed while growing alongside the start-up business, these are the qualities that should be recognized when interviewing candidates.

One hiring tip you should consider

Dimity also mentioned one hiring tip you need to consider is always to have two people interviewing, whether the hiring manager or someone from the Human Resources department. Make sure you can follow up after the interview to discuss how you felt about the candidate.

Your gut will always tell you when someone feels right for the role, you should jump on them, even if they don't have all of the skills you are looking for. It's easier to train up new hires, especially when you get the onboarding process right, rather than to waste time searching for longer.

Ready for your next startup interview?

Now we've given you our secrets in what an interview looks like at Coassemble; we're here to help you get organized and streamline your processes in the best way possible. If you're the hiring manager or a member of the HR team, you'll likely be hiring more than this one time due to being a start up. The best thing you can do is jump on our free Course Builder and drop your hiring process into it so you can adjust it as and when you need to for each role. You can add screens, move screens and customize your content to build your onboarding checklist you'll be proud of.

Build an engaging course for FREE!

Try Coassemble and transform your online training today.

No credit card required.

You might also like


The convergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS) is transforming the learning and development industry. Let's delve into the basics of SaaS LMS, highlight notable examples of SaaS LMS platforms, and discuss the numerous benefits of this powerful combination.

Customer Service Training

Amidst a competitive business environment, providing exceptional customer service is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Customer service training is key to making sure your team possesses the skills and knowledge required to provide outstanding support. Let's discuss what customer service training involves, explore effective training methods, talk about available software options, and the myriad benefits that come with investing in a well-trained customer service team.

SCORM Authoring Tools

Crafting engaging and standardized content is essential for fostering smooth learning experiences today. SCORM stands out as a pivotal player in this field, providing a set of standards for creating, packaging, and delivering eLearning content. Today, we'll explore what SCORM is, highlight its advantages, and showcase a few widely used SCORM authoring tools.