How to crush your interview at 4 Boston tech companies

by Justine Hofherr
November 16, 2017

When you first learned how to apply for jobs in the real world, a parent or guidance counselor probably taught you to start cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern” and to wear business attire to job interviews. While some of those traditional rules still apply, the application and interview process at startups is pretty different from the corporate world.

That’s why we got the inside scoop from recruiters at four Boston tech companies. Keep reading for tips on crafting a bomb resume, standing out from the pack and dressing for your interview.


Photo via Cybereason

Cybereason’s proprietary SaaS cybersecurity technology and advanced monitoring services are used by hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies to protect themselves from highly advanced attacks. Talent acquisition partner Tommy Barth shares how to crush an interview at the fast-growing cybersecurity company.

What is the job application process like at Cybereason?

Each department is nuanced, but we move quickly — more quickly than most companies. After a phone call or video screen with someone on the talent team, you'll likely be invited straight into the office if you're moving forward with the process. That's because we qualify a lot of things up front and don't want to waste anyone's time if it's not the right fit. Our sales people go through a specific process of screening and education, so they understand our market and product before they make it to our office. And we ensure that someone from outside of sales (in marketing, product or product marketing) gets a chance to speak with them about the company and the culture.

How is applying for a job at a startup different from applying with a more corporate or traditional company?

More established companies have more established job descriptions. Because your role might change every three months in our type of environment, we look for more than just a match to the 'requirements for a job.' More than that, we're interested in your true motivations: Do you just love helping customers? Are you a total geek when it comes to agile marketing? Do you have an insatiable appetite for finding new ways to get someone to open an email? We need grit, intrinsic motivation and humility more than most places. We're solving extremely complex problems at lightning speed, so through your interview process it's important to highlight your ability to cut through the noise, stay on task despite cascading priorities and manage relationships very, very effectively.

What's the most important thing a candidate can do to make their application stand out?

Do your homework. Be prepared to answer things like who their investors are, what the vision for the company is and why the leaders of the organization have made certain choices along the way. At a startup, you're effectively joining a family and you should be interested in more than just the job you're interviewing for, but how it fits into the broader picture.

How should candidates dress for an interview with Cybereason?

Be yourself. My advice is typically, "Wear what you would wear if you were meeting your significant other's parents for the first time." That prompt usually tells me a lot about who they are when they come through the door on interview day.


Photo via Toast

Restaurant tech company Toast likes job candidates who can describe their versatility. The Toast recruiting team gives the inside scoop on the startup’s interview process.

What is the job application process like at Toast?

At Toast, we try to consider and relate to the candidate experience as much as possible. Even if a candidate is not chosen for the position they applied to, we will always try to inform them of our decision. If a candidate is selected to move forward in the interview process, the first step is a preliminary phone call to go over the candidate’s qualifications, experience and to teach them more about Toast. After a preliminary call, candidates will have an additional call with the manager in charge of hiring for the position. This call gives candidates a chance to meet their could-be manager and to show off their qualifications. Once that call is completed, the candidate will be invited to our HQ, located right behind Fenway Park, for a round of in-person interviews. These interviews will be held by a predetermined panel, designed to give the candidate a complete scope of the position and an idea of what it is like to work at Toast. The last step is an internal meeting where the interview panel shares feedback and makes a final decision on the person's candidacy.

How is applying for a job at a startup different from applying with a more corporate or traditional company?

The role that you’re applying for in a startup is generally what’s on the job description, and so much more. You’ll have the opportunity to take on extra projects or help in different areas of the business that will allow you to grow yourself, and add new skill sets. You can also expect that you’ll be working cross-team more often than not, even if it’s not explicitly stated on the description. In some cases, when applying, you may want to consider including experience on your resume that doesn’t directly align with the job (use your judgment here), since a varied background is often a perk in startup environments.

What's the most important thing a candidate can do to make their application stand out?

A candidate can make their application stand out by explaining and conveying their versatility. Many employees that work at a startup wear different hats and are involved in different projects. Being able to talk about projects that you worked on and how they helped achieve a business need will help you to stand out to any startup employer.

How should candidates dress for an interview with Toast?

We encourage candidates to wear business casual attire to their interview and express their personality through their clothing choices.


Photo via Acquia

Acquia’s technology helps organizations like Intuit and Warner Music Group to use Drupal — the leading open source technology powering more than 2 million websites — to drive their digital experiences. Bruce Zambrowicz, senior director of global talent acquisition, shares how job seekers can stand out during the interview process.

What is the job application process like at Acquia?

We love introductions and meeting new people. Our open jobs can be found through our site, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook and the list goes on. Every application is read by someone on our team, and we want to learn more about you and what’s important to you in your search. We recognize feedback is key, and make sure we respond to everyone. If you don’t see the right job opening for you, come back and visit us again. We’re a growing organization and continually post our jobs.

How is applying for a job at a startup different than applying with a more corporate or traditional company?

Essentially, the process is really the same. It’s important to write an accurate and easy-to-follow resume that highlights your strengths and helps us get to know you. Different companies can have unique application processes (more click throughs) but in each case you want to make your best, first impression. Something to keep in mind is a personal introduction. Do your homework on the company and see if you know anyone. This always helps set you apart and start the conversation.

What's the most important thing a candidate can do to make their application stand out?

Be you. We want to get to know who you are. Make sure your resume is clear and concise. If you think it’s helpful, add a cover letter and let us know why you are interested in us and what excited you about the job.

How should candidates dress for an interview with Acquia?

While we are a casual dress environment, we recommend business casual for your interview. We take our interview process seriously, and we want to know you do, too. In the end, if you have a question, it’s always good to ask. 


Photo via ZeroTurnaround

ZeroTurnaround makes developer tools for creating software nearly 20 percent faster. Adrian Hall, HR operations associate, described the best way for job candidates to craft their resumes.

What is the job application process like at ZeroTurnaround?

The job application is super simple and quick. Click on the apply button using your mobile device or computer and simply fill out a couple lines of basic information, upload your resume or connect your LinkedIn and you have officially applied to one of our open positions.

How is applying for a job at a startup different than applying with a more corporate or traditional company?

Applying for a job at a startup is pretty simple. Most startups try to make the application process as efficient as possible for the candidate and they reach out quickly if it’s a right match. In startups, the hiring process is pretty quick although it consists of many different steps. We try to give rapid feedback to the candidate after every step to keep them informed. We also focus a lot on culture fit other than just the skillset.

What's the most important thing a candidate can do to make their application stand out?

The most important thing a candidate can do to make their application stand out is to line up the bullet points of their job responsibilities with the bullets listed in a job description. Show the startup that you can perform the job described based on your previous experience. If you don’t have previous experience that matches the job you apply for, then show us that you have the motivation to learn.

How should candidates dress for an interview with ZeroTurnaround?

Dress for success. We do not wear full business attire regularly and prefer business casual in the office, but we want to make sure that if you are ever in a client-facing experience you can dress appropriately. Also, looking better makes you more confident.


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