October 17, 2012
How to prepare for a job interview at an Internet company

As anyone who has started a company will tell you,
the people you hire into your company are *critical* to the long-term
success of the business. The employees set the tone and vibe, and a
single bad apple can put a strain on the whole team. So, like most
startups, we strive to hire the best people we've ever worked with. I take hiring very seriously, and I've never regretted spending more time to find a great hire. 

the past few weeks I've been interviewing a lot of candidates (in fact,
I made two hires this past week). One thing I've been struck with are
the vast differences between those who prepare for an interview and
those who don't. It's very disappointing to sit across the table from
someone who says "I didn't have time to prepare." I always think, "Really? Well I don't have time to waste with you." And
usually I end those interviews very fast (seriously, one time i ended
an interview after just four minutes. The walk to the front door was
very awkward).
those who do take the time to prepare, some don't use their time
wisely. So here's a little hint: the most important thing you need to do
before an interview is to learn about the person that is going to
interview you. With all of the resources on the web, you can find out a
lot about me pretty quickly; where I've worked, my professional
experience etc. But much more importantly, you can find out a few
personal things about me. What makes me tick? Do we share the same
interests? Do we know anyone or anything in common? These are critical
things to learn BEFORE the interview so that you can not only make small
talk but you can "get inside my head."

So other than
learning about the person who is going to interview you, how else do you
prepare for this kind of an interview? Here are five things you can do
to prepare for an interview at an Internet company:

1) Start by
using the product or service inside and out. Sign up for an account, and
use the product like a real user. Jot down notes about "what you like"
and "things that need improvement" and come prepared with a list. If you
are taking the time to interview at an Internet company, there is
simply no excuse for not using the product thoroughly before your

2) Visit the
"About Us" page of the company. Read every page. If there are documents
you can download to learn more, then take the time to read those too.

3) Visit the
public LinkedIn pages of all of the people who plan to interview you. If
you don't know who is scheduled to interview you, don't be shy! Ask
your contact at the company for a list of the people who you'll be
meeting with so that you can do your research.

4) Find out
what you should wear to the interview. Either read up on the company
culture and make an educated guess, or ask your contact at the company
(hint: if you show up for an interview at Punchbowl in a shirt and tie,
the first thing I'll ask you to do is to "lose the tie").

5) Come up with three thoughtful questions about the company. Please don't ask "what is the five year plan for the company?"
because at an Internet company, that's a stupid question (yes, we have a
one year plan, but five years in the Internet is a very, very long
time). When the time comes in the interview when you are asked, "do you have any questions about the company?" you should say "yes, and I jotted down a few so that I could ask you when I had the opportunity." Then
take out your notes and keep your question succinct. You'll make a
strong impression if you are prepared for this part of the interview.

In this day and age, there's simply no excuse for not being prepared
for an interview -- especially at an Internet company. Take the time to
thoroughly prepare, and your odds for landing the position will increase

Matt Douglas is the Founder & CEO of  You can find this blog post, as well as additional content on his blog called The Startup Swami.  You can aslo follow Matt on Twitter (@Mattdouglas) by clicking here.

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