Get up to 2% cashback** redeemed to your personal bank account. Chat with us.

What is the best question to ask for seed-stage startup interviews?

Use the "rocket ship or yacht" interview question to hire ambitious employees for your startup. By asking this question, you can get a sense of whether the candidate is looking for a challenge or a more relaxed work environment.

Rajeev Behera
Founder 101
February 15, 2024

Rocket Ship or Yacht?

This is one of my favorite interview questions to ask when hiring for a seed stage company:

Do you want to join a rocket ship or a yacht?

A rocket ship has only a few seats, so there is no room for deadweight. We are a small crew is in search of a habitable planet. We most likely won't find one before we die, but we are going work as hard as we can to get there - after all, our life depends on it. Every single one of us has a critical role. If someone isn't carrying their weight, we will know immediately and kick them off the ship.

A yacht is really different, you cruise around the harbor in the sun, assimilate in the crowd with other employees. The amenities are great. Tons of snacks. But you usually just return to the port you departed from, not impacting the world much. It's a great lifestyle. There is no shame in wanted to join a yacht.

How Does the "Rocket Ship or Yacht" Interview Question Help you Hire Ambitious Employees?

This question helps weeds out the employees who really want to be on a yacht by doing the following:

1. It sets the expectation that if the employee joins, they will be expected to produce a ton. They won't be able to hide among the crowd.

2. It makes the person you interview actually think about what it means to join an early stage startup. Usually people think about the excitement that comes with being early at a potential unicorn, but they overlook the grind.

Subscribe to get founder advice delivered straight to your inbox.