What Makes a Top-Quality Candidate for a Job at an Innovation Company?

By the time you make it to the interview for a startup job, or any role where you're focusing on disrupting industries, you can usually be pretty sure that your skills and experiences fit the bill for what the company needs. Still, even the most technically qualified candidates won’t walk away with an offer every time. We asked our hiring partners what they look for in a candidate, outside of hard skills. Here are some of the highlights:



Ethan Austin, GiveForward: “We’re always looking for learners and people who are curious about the world. Skillsets are irrelevant because things change so quickly at a startup. You could be working on customer service one day, SEO the next, and product management the day after.  We like people who are constantly looking to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities.”


Jay Neely, Boston Globe Media:Nothing's more important than finding people who will do whatever it takes to learn. Demonstrated passion for building your skills is more important than a college degree or X years of experience.”



Marc Ioli, Appboy: “Transparency is one of our key company values. We need people who will be honest and bold about expressing their ideas, but also able to move forward as a contributing member of the team if we decide to go in a different direction. Strong and open communication is critical to our company culture.”


Brendan Gill, OpenSignal:[It’s] important... to be able to concisely and clearly articulate a point of view. Of course, the other side of this is the ability to listen and absorb information and not react when your opinion is challenged, but work collaboratively toward a better outcome.”


 Tom Cullen, LaunchPad Lab: “We look for people who thrive on collaboration... Everyone is  expected to be creative and contribute to all facets of building businesses (ours and our clients’).”


Josh Waller, Krossover: “We need people who are able to roll with the punches and do what needs to get done, even if it is not in their job description. The best way to impact a team is to show that you’ve conquered a challenge, rather than just saying you can,"


Kristina Narusk, Memrise:Taking responsibility, often for things that require skills you don't have. Constantly learning new things and working out issues that come with the product, user base and company growth means that 'promotion' is programmed into every role. In a large established organization it would take years before you get the same responsibility that in startups can happen almost every 6 months.”


Dennis Hoenig-Ohnsorg, Ashoka: “We are always seeking creative doers with a habit of reshaping the    world in significant ways, whether they launched their own organizations or made change inside themselves.”



Alaina Restivo, Swipely: “Above all else, you have passion for our people and genuinely want to play an important role in their success. You look for ways to drive excellence among our teams and individuals... [You have] an enthusiasm that is contagious and an innate ability to get people excited when collaborating across departments.”


Iris Hay, Outfittery: “Loyal, self-driven and empathetic people, who love our product and the dynamism of startup life.

Photo Credit: hackNY.org via Flickrcc