How to Pick an Employer or Partner

So many people actually write how to hire good candidates. This time, I want candidates to be smart on how to pick a good employer, or a good startup founder they can partner with. More specifically, this is geared towards technology or design positions.

  1. See if you can talk casually with them. If it’s a startup, there’s more chance that it will be a relaxed conversation and see whether you can be yourself, and they can be themselves.
  2. See if you can actually negotiate interview time and place. I do this on purpose sometimes just to see whether they are really interested in me and how they react to it. If they’re chill, it gives a good boost that they might be a good employer. Trust me.
  3. See what their first question is. This is very defining. If they start with introducing the company, there’s a good chance that they’re pretty motivated about the company and they want to sell it to you. If the first question is, “Can you introduce yourself?”, it’s more likely that they are doing a scripted interview and they haven’t studied you in details.
  4. See their social media posts. It’s not only employers who can check backgrounds. As candidates we can check backgrounds of the people and company who will potentially hire us. Check their social media posts. Yes, stalk them. It’s a good opportunity to know whether they’re good fits for you, or not.
  5. See their preferred way of communication. Is it by phone, email or chat? If the preferred way is phone only, leave it there. It’s a sign they’re not truly engaged in this era. If they email, see how they write their emails. Are they written professionally with good punctuation and grammar? Go for it. Bonus points: they can be chill about the words and make situations go light. If they do chat only, it’s a sign that they might slack off and not really serious about things, but also, that depends on the company.
  6. Try to negotiate other than salary. Salary is one thing, but try to gauge the culture of the company. Ask questions like remote-working possibility, sick policies, vacation policies, how they deal with departing employees, what the worst things that have happened in recruitments, how the team works and whether there’s free food or not. I am not saying that you should join companies that have free perks. This is a way to see whether they know that these things are possible and if they’re working towards those.
  7. Ask about the product(s) they build, and what they are planning for the future. As candidates you have to be passionate about the work you’ll be working on. Unless you’re desperate for a job, it’s always a good idea to ask what the company is building. Ask them to pitch for you like they pitch for investors. I’ve requested this one time, and the founder actually presented me with investment decks and projections for the next 3–5 years. It’s not always possible, but just ask and see what they can do.

As a rule of thumb, if they’re more passionate in talking about their products and the company’s future—while trying to instill the same sense of ownership to you—with respect to your skills, there’s a very good chance that it’s a company or founder you’d want to work with, no matter what your limitations are.