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Empowering the Executive Candidate: Tips for Assessing Company Fit in 2023

April 26, 2023

By Amy LoPiccolo and Paul Viola

5 tips for executives to build confidence when joining a startup at any stage

Difficult public and private market conditions have unsurprisingly influenced leadership hiring over the past several quarters. According to a recent study of venture capital and private equity executive search records by ThriveTRM, executive hiring was down 14% in 2022 compared to 2021, and that downward trend remains consistent so far in 2023.

With the decline in demand for executive talent, we’re also seeing increasing hesitancy from candidates. Many executives are considering a career change more carefully, especially if they’re tenured at their current company.

Silicon Valley “super angel” Ron Conway has said, “any time is a good time to start a company” – and we believe the same can be said about joining one, as long as you’re asking the right questions.

In addition to gaining insight from a company’s investors and Platform team, here are some measures you can take to help build confidence in joining a startup at any stage.

  1. Research the company’s founders and leadership team: Leverage public platforms like LinkedIn and other social media sites to get a sense for the company’s leadership team structure and tenure. Look at what kind of topics they discuss publicly to get a better sense of their priorities.  Also, consider founders’ previous experience in their field and track record of building successful companies.
  2. Ask about the business’s near- and long-term strategy: How do current executives at the startup speak about the macro environment? Ask about their strategy and company objectives, and how they plan to achieve them. This will give you a sense of how the business is positioned in the market and its potential for success.
  3. Investigate the financials: During the interview process, ask about the business’s funding, revenue and burn rate. Consider their funding stage, when they raised their last funding round and who their investors are. Ask when they are planning to raise next and what they expect from their next raise. For many executive positions, it’s also common for investors to be included in the interview process.
  4. Check the startup’s reputation: Look for reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Comparably and research any news articles or press releases about the company. Speak with people in your network who may know about the business and its reputation. If possible, request that the startup connect you with other recent leadership hires to understand their placement and onboarding experience.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the company’s culture: Make sure that the business’s mission and vision are meaningful to you personally. Research its values and culture, and discuss decision-making/governance structures, employee wellbeing measures, benefits and work-life balance. If there are any special accommodations you may need, ask to speak to others in the firm who may be in similar situations to get a sense of the firm’s flexibility.

Ultimately, joining a new company is a personal decision that should be considered thoughtfully in any economic climate.

At B Capital, our Platform People & Organization team partners with talented executives in our network to reveal the true ROI of joining one of our amazing companies.

For more information on candidate experience, or to inquire about executive positions within the B Capital portfolio, please reach out to
Amy LoPiccolo or Paul Viola.

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