2.2.3 Interviews at big companies vs. at small companies
Hiring at a small company is very different from hiring at a big company. One reason is that big companies make a lot of hires, so they need to standardize their process. Small companies refine the process as they go. Another reason is that big companies can afford to occasionally make bad hires, whereas a few bad hires can run a small company into the ground.
As a result, processes at smaller companies can adapt to each role and each candidate. Processes at big companies can be rigid and bureaucratic and might involve questions irrelevant to the role or the candidate. The standardization at big companies also means that the process is more hackable -- thorough preparation can substantially increase your odds.
Another important difference is that big companies can afford to hire specialists, who are great in only a small area. Startups are unpredictable and ever-changing, so they might care less about what you do best and more about whether you can address their most urgent needs.