How Entrepreneurs Can Use their Experience Effectively in Job Interviews

You have interviewed people for jobs at your company as an entrepreneur, but it can be scary returning to the role of an interviewee. The experience you gained as an entrepreneur can be helpful to another organization, but it may not always be relevant. Our team of executive recruiters and entrepreneurial career experts put together the following tips for entrepreneurs to put their best foot forward in a job interview.

1. Remember to Focus on Yourself

The job interview is about you, not your company. This means that the person interviewing you will want to know more about you in the way you answer the questions. This can be hard when so much of what you have done as an entrepreneur is to build your company. But, keeping the focus on yourself or how you led people is key to making sure that you position the examples well in your interview.

2. Prepare Examples of Your Success and Failures

Everyone has made mistakes or not achieved the best results. This is true of every entrepreneur. The person interviewing you for a job wants to know about the good and the bad. They don't want to know all the excuses or the nitty-gritty of the mistakes. But, they do want to know how you handled them and how you learned from those mistakes or disappointments. So, be ready with examples of both your highs and lows.

3. Explain Why You are Looking

Answering the question "Why are you looking to make a change now?" Can be tricky for some entrepreneurs. The key for most is to keep the answer forward-looking while providing enough context on your business to show the person interviewing you that you are ready to join their team. You should also make sure to keep the answer positive in why you want to join their organization, but be careful not to look desperate in doing so.

4. Be Ready to Talk About Your Business.

If you're interviewing for a job that's related to your business, then you can expect to be asked questions about it. Be prepared to talk about your business in detail, including its successes and failures. This will show that you're knowledgeable about your industry and that you're able to think critically about your work, the industry, and how you fit into their organization.

If you are looking to change industries, you will still probably be asked about your business. In these answers, the industry jargon or your knowledge about it is less relevant. In this case, you should be ready to talk about your decision-making, your leadership style, and how you managed the business in a way that is relevant to the job that you are interviewing for.

5. Communicate Your Goals

As an entrepreneur, you're used to setting and achieving goals. In a job interview, you should be prepared to talk about your long-term career goals and how you plan on achieving them. This answer should also include an explanation of how those goals can be achieved if you get the job that you are interviewing for.  

This will show that you're motivated and that you have a plan for your career and not that you are simply looking for a paycheck. Plus, this will let the interviewer know that you are looking to join their organization for a while rather than move on as soon as you can.

6. Have Leadership Examples Ready.

If you're interviewing for a job that requires you to manage a team, then you can expect to be asked situational questions about your experience leading a team. Be ready to talk about your leadership style and how you've motivated your team in the past. This will show that you're capable of managing people and that you're familiar with the challenges that come with leading a team.

In answering these questions, make sure that you provide details about who you managed, how many people, and how you made decisions. You should have examples ready of when people were promoted and when those people were fired. The key in all of these answers is to focus on how you handled the situations as a leader.

7. Be ready to talk about your motivation.

As an entrepreneur, you're used to being self-motivated. In a job interview, you should be prepared to talk about what motivates you to do your best work. This will show that you can be motivated to work for someone else.

Keep in mind that some people think that the reason you are an entrepreneur is that you can't work with others. So use this opportunity to convey how you have motivated yourself and your teams while serving as the business owner.

8. Account for Work-Style and Culture

Many companies are focused as much on fit for their team as they are on the ability to do the job. This means that you will need to communicate how you do things including how you work with others in your answers. This answer should reflect that you can take direction from others in doing so and that you don't have to be the one deciding everything.

This is important if you are now interviewing to be an employee rather than a business owner. As a result, make sure to prepare your interview answers that are focused on how you do things and how you collaborate with others to make sure the right results are obtained.

8. Money Matters

The question about compensation will come up in your interview to move from business owner to employee. The way that most business owners think about compensation is different than employees, so answering this question can be challenging because your compensation as a business owner isn't relevant to answering the question in the job interview.

Instead, do your research. Find out what most people are paid for the type of job that you are interviewing for. Use that research in the interview if you need to.  But, try to ask the person interviewing you about the compensation range if possible. The company has set a budget for the salary for the position and that could be different than your market research. So, cut to the point and ask the interviewer in a strategic way when possible to make sure the job is a fit for what you want next. And, think about that number in the context of the entire benefits package.

9. Sell Yourself and Your Skills

The point of a job interview is to show the person that you are meeting and that you are the best person for the job. You are also using the interview to determine if you want the job. Keep this in mind as you answer the questions.

Make sure that you are selling yourself and your experiences in each answer. But, you should also make sure to ask questions to understand the job. Just like selling in your business, you will need to now qualify the opportunity and sell yourself if you want the job.

These are just a few ways that entrepreneurs can use their experience to their advantage when seeking employment elsewhere. If you're an entrepreneur who's looking for a job, remember to be able to talk about your successes and failures, be prepared to answer questions about why you want a job, and be able to sell yourself confidently during interviews. By following these tips, you'll put yourself in a great position to succeed!