Nail your onsite interview with these 50 startup interview questions

Nail your Onsite Interview with these 50 Startup Interview Questions

Startups often have wildly different interview processes than top tech companies like Amazon. While startups are typically more casual, their teams are almost always smaller.  Their work is more bootstrapped and employees are expected to wear many hats.

Hiring at startups companies is always team specific, meaning the team chooses which interview questions to ask and how to conduct interviews. Team members are usually extremely busy. This means that technical startup interview questions will often be copied directly from Leetcode. Behavioral questions tend to be straightforward and are reused for other candidates.  To help you to prepare for your startup interviews, we’ve compiled this list of 50 startup interview questions from real startup companies.

Onsite interview questions

Most Common Startup Interview Questions

  1. 1. Rippling interview question – Tell me about yourself.
  2. 2. Stripe interview question  – Why Stripe?
  3. Peloton interview question – Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers?
  4. Coursera interview questionWhat is your most significant accomplishment in your last role?
  5. Roblox interview question – What is an example of a difficult conversation you have had with a stakeholder?
  6. Hubspot interview  question – Give examples of situations where you have shown effectiveness, empathy, adaptability, & humbleness.
  7. Slack interview question – Have you handled a difficult situation with a coworker? How?
  8. Stripe interview question – How do you collaborate with others?
  9. Brex interview questionWhat is the hardest problem you have worked on?
  10. Checkr interview  question – Describe a time when you have worked on a cross-functional team.
  11. Compass interview questionWalk me through a challenging decision you had to make
  12. Dataminr interview questionWalk me through a project you worked on from beginning to end
  13. Coursera interview question– How would your previous manager describe you? What would he say are your weaknesses?
  14. Machine Zone interview  question – Tell us about a conflict you have had with a manager.
  15. Tradeshift interview question – How do you motivate your team?

Behavioral Startup Interview Questions

  1. Intercom interview questionTell me about a time when you had a big feature to deliver (estimated time > 1 month). How did you tackle the problem?  
  2. Asana interview question – How do you deal with a situation when someone else thinks your solution is wrong?  
  3. Rakuten interview question – Who has influenced you in your career?
  4. Autodesk interview question – How would you handle a situation in which you were getting a lot of negative feedback in the middle of a presentation?
  5. Roblox interview question – Tell me about a mistake you made and what you learned from it.  
  6. DoorDash interview questionWhat project(s) have you worked on that demonstrate your skills?  
  7. Zenefits interview question – How do you set people up for success?
  8. TripAdvisor interview  question – What websites do you spend a lot of time on?
  9. AppDirect interview question – What are three reasons why we should not hire you?
  10. Magic Leap interview question – Explain one of the projects on your resume as if I had no idea about the background
  11. Clever interview question – Describe a great team you have worked on.
  12. Algolia interview question – In one of the projects on your resume, what would you have done differently?

Technical Startup Interview Questions for Software Engineers

  1. Palantir interview questionIf you have a large array of integers, write an algorithm that will find out if any 2 sum to zero. What is the Big O of the algorithm? Come up with ways that are not brute force that are faster.
  2. OpenText interview questionGiven an array having duplicate values, remove the duplicate values and also preserve the order without using any extra space.
    1. Ex: Input: [ 1, 3, 2, 3, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2 ] Output: [ 1, 3, 2, 4 ].
  3. Intuit interview questionGiven a mathematical expression as a string, return an int computing the value of the expression.
    1. Ex: 1+3-6 = -2
  4. Palantir interview questionYou have a set of (time, value) pairs. How can you find the first and last values in the time interval [a, b]?
  5. TripAdvisor interview questionConvert an integer with on bits corresponding to valid days of a week to strings of valid days.
  6. Docusign interview questionWrite a function that will identify if a victory condition exists in a tic-tac-toe game.
  7. Dropbox interview questionYou have a number of meetings (with their start and end times). You need to schedule them using the minimum number of rooms. Return the list of meetings in every room.
  8. HubSpot interview questionName and explain the common HTTP request methods.
  9. Docusign interview questionWrite a solution to operate elevators in a 10 story building.
  10. Groupon interview questionDesign a mobile app for college grades. How do you make it scalable?
  11. Autodesk questionHow do you code a calculator and debug it?
  12. HubSpot questionDesign a URL shortener API, with metrics capturing and some optimization suggestions.
  13. Slack questionMake a single-page app which reads from an API, displays the data on the page, and updates the page without refreshing.
    1. The user should also be able to click on an entry and get an overlay with more details.
    2. The only technical limitation was to not use any frameworks.
  14. Stripe questionDesign an API for tracking events in different clients
  15. These common software engineering interview questions and startup interview questions by company name.

Work Style Startup Interview Questions

  1. Apartment List interview  question – When tackling a particular software problem, do you approach it by gut or by analysis and research?  
  2. Eventbrite interview question – What are some examples of how you think through difficult problems?  
  3. Rippling interview question – Do you find that you get overwhelmed often at work? How do you combat that?
  4. Booking interview questionIf you know there are 2 improvements that need to be made, but can only make 1, how would you prioritize?
  5. Intercom interview question – What team would you assemble to get your solution implemented assuming unlimited resources?
  6. Intercom interview question – What do you do when you are procrastinating?
  7. Gusto interview questionHow do you manage your to-do list?
  8. InVision interview question – Give examples of good managers you have had in the past and why you came to those conclusions.
  9. Cloudflare interview question– Do you prefer to work on new items or build up older features/pro​​jects?

Mission and Company Culture Startup Interview Questions

  1. Samsara interview question – What do you know about Samsara?
  2. Slack interview question – Which of our company values do you relate to most?
  3. DoorDash interview question – What 3 things do you look for the most in a company?
  4. Roblox interview question – What part of your field is most interesting to you?
  5. Peloton interview question – What is a feature in our app or products that you think could be changed?
  6. Sprinklr interview question – How did your interest in this field start?

Personality Startup interview Questions

  1. Thumbtack interview question – How are you different than your friends?
  2. Lookout interview question – Talk about the apps on your phone that you use the most and why ​​you use them.
  3. Algolia interview question – How do you handle continuous change?
  4. Anaplan interview question – How would other employees describe your work style and ethics?
  5. OpenDoor interview question – Outside of work, what are your interests?
  6. Oscar interview question – How do you measure success?
  7. Optimizely interview question – What’s an opinion you have that most others disagree with?  
  8. Apartment List interview question – What is your favorite software or app that you use every day, and why do you like it so much?
  9. Samsara interview question – What do you want to focus on in the future?
  10. Thumbtack interview question – What is one thing you can teach me in five minutes? (Doesn’t have to be related to the job).
  11. Warby Parker interview question – What are some tech publications you read?
  12. Eventbrite interview question – What are 3 character flaws you have?  

How to Answer Startup Interview Questions

Preparing responses for these startup interview questions can help you build confidence so you go into your sessions set up for success. However, we also have some tips for you to follow so you can nail your startup interviews.

Prepare example situations for Startup Interview Questions

When preparing for startup interview questions, many job seekers just glance over questions without actually writing down a response. They might practice answering the questions aloud, but they don’t memorize any situations or answers–they’re confident that they’ll be able to communicate an answer in the moment. But planning to “wing” your questions is risky and ineffective, even if you glanced at questions beforehand. Startups are often seeking extremely specific answers that align with their values and mission. 

We recommend you prepare answers to the most common behavioral startup interview questions like “tell me about yourself” that come in every interview. Then use the STAR method to answer each question by citing a situation in a previous role and the impact you had.

Star method

Keep the Startup’s Mission in the Forefront

Do research on the startup company to learn about their mission and values so that you can talk about how you connect to their goals. Early stage startups are small and culture fit is extremely important because most people work closely with one another. Startup interviewers want to see how you’d fit in with the culture before moving you on or making an offer. Showcasing your alignment early is a great way to get them excited to move you forward. A genuine interest in their work and mission is equally important. Carefully study the company’s products and mission, then prepare an answer to why the company’s work and impact matters to you

Mix “I” and “we”

When it comes to taking credit, if you were on a team, use “I” to denote what your responsibilities were clearly. Then, use “we” to give your team credit for overall accomplishments. Alongside that, mention how grateful you are or how much you learned, which helps avoid sounding too braggy. Check out our interview etiquette checklist to put your best foot forward and avoid coming off as rude or arrogant.

Stay focused

Job seekers often think that adding more information makes their answer better. While telling your story and answering the questions thoroughly matters, it’s better to have interviewers ask for more information than for you to run on and on with your answer. Make use of, “happy to go into more detail, if you’d like” to curb yourself.

With these questions and knowledge at hand, you should be able to go into your behavioral interviews prepared and with confidence. Practice even more questions with our list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech.  While we place fellows at amazing startups, we also place job seekers at top FAANG companies like Apple and Google regularly. Our fellows see their response rates tripple and their interview scores double, on average.

If you want to work with our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

Check out our other Interview Questions to prep for your next interview:

Alex MacPherson

Hi I'm Alex! Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, I have worked on the growth team for Pathrise helping job seekers hone their skills to land their dream role through curated content on interview prep, resume building and more.

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