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Questions asked at YC interviews  

Kevin Gao shares what he believes are key questions asked by the YCombinator team during interviews, with do's and don'ts:

  1. How did you come up with the idea?
  2. How big do you think your market is?
  3. What have you already accomplished?
  4. What is the equity split among your team?
  5. Are you going to work on your startup even if we don't fund you?

Even more interesting than this post (which unfortunately lacks any mention of whether Kevin has been through any YC interviews or has spoken with many alumni) are the comments by Paul Graham himself on the HN thread:

These are all things we care about, but they are probably not the most common questions we ask. E.g. we already know about the equity split because we ask about it on the application form, so we only bring it up during the interview if we noticed something odd about it.

The thing we care most about in interviews (at least of things one can change) is how engaged the founders are with users. How do they know people actually want what they're building? Have they talked to real, live users? What have they learned from them?

We don't care super much how big the initial market is, so long as the startup is making something that (a) some subset of people want a lot, and (b) if that market is not itself huge, there is an easy path into bigger neighboring ones. Basically, we're looking for startups building Altair Basic.

The whole thread is worth reading if you're interviewing at YC, or, in fact, any other incubator (and probably most savvy angels will ask similar questions).

Even if you have no intention to raise funding, some of these points (e.g. how you're building engagement with users) are worth thinking about for yourself.

More from the library:
What kind of startup should you copy?
Advisors: stop screwing startups
Startup cooking: don't eat pizza and ramen