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I’m a startup founder eager to hire laid-off Big Tech workers. Here’s what I look for during interviews.

Ahmed Reza in front of a dark backgroundAhmed Reza is the founder and CEO of AI-powered communications app Yobi.

TerrificShot Studio Photography, Mountain View CA

  • Ahmed Reza is the founder and CEO of AI-powered communications app Yobi.
  • He says big tech workers are in the top 1% of talent and he’s excited to hire them for his startup. 
  • Reza says startups have a very different culture and hiring strategy than Big Tech companies. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ahmed Reza, founder and CEO of AI-powered communications app Yobi, self-proclaimed AI geek and entrepreneur based in Los Gatos, CA. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I was giddy (but shouldn’t have been) when I started hearing about hiring freezes at Meta and Google and Amazon laying off people. It opened up an opportunity to hire tech talent from those firms for my company, Yobi, an AI-powered communication app

I don’t want to downplay or make it seem trivial for those who are losing their jobs. But because I’ve seen massive layoffs, I have a lot to share on this topic. 

We like to think that we have everything planned out in the world, and we don’t like disruption. And when that happens, that’s usually the best thing for ourselves, for our careers, and for innovation.

The workers at Big Tech firms are the 1% of the 1%. They’ve all gone to good schools, they have the pedigree, and they’re going to have opportunities. They’re still going to be competitive. So I don’t expect them to be unemployed for very long.

Here’s my advice for recently laid off tech workers looking for a new opportunity at a startup. 

1. Learn new skills that apply to startups, like AI trends

If you have not been learning, learn. If you’re able to learn and keep up on the new changes, you can use that to your advantage.  

The best minds that I know are in their 70s learning ChatGPT and learning new programming languages.

2. Laid off Big Tech hires need to show off more than just the technical capabilities

What I’m looking for is that culture fit. I want to make sure this is something that aligns with their own personal life goals and values because if it does then they’re going to love the journey and we’re going to be very successful together.

In a recent hiring situation, there was a certain candidate who was really bright and there’s another person whose experience the team wasn’t quite as keen on. But I thought he was a better cultural fit, so we hired him instead. 

3. We ask philosophical questions during the interview process at startups

Most of the discussions that I end up having are way more philosophical and about life than they are about do you know how to do this.

I think about: Is this person going to fit with the rest of the team? Are they going to move us? Is there a synergistic relationship?  

Or is it going to actually slow us down no matter how smart the hire is. We want to hire good people, idealistic dreamers, because that’s who we are.

4. Startups don’t follow the same corporate culture at Big Tech firms 

Certain work cultures are hyper competitive and that’s okay. But for us, that would be quite detrimental because the reality is at startups we need to work together. 

5. Interview the startup, just as they interview you, to see if it’s a good fit

The relationship with corporations and people are transactional — it’s not a lifetime guarantee of a job. The sooner you realize that and you take care of yourself, you realize the value of being more flexible.

Do your homework on the startup. Inquire about the kind of folks that are there and make sure that you’ll be happy with them. You’re trying to make sure that both of you will be happy and prosperous going forward. Yes, it’s transactional but if that relationship is right, you’re both going to do well.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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