Most people, when interviewing for a new job, forget the process is supposed to be a 2-way street.
It’s as important for you, as a candidate, to determine if the job, the company, the culture, and the work environment is right for you as it is for the company to determine if you’re right for them. You do yourself no favors by accepting an offer for a job that is not a good fit. It will make you miserable, your employer dissatisfied, and likely not end well.
In order to make a rational judgment as to the fit, you must have your criteria figured out in advance. Very often, when you’re in the middle of an evaluation process, it’s easy to rationalize all the things that don’t feel right to you because you want a job, any job, so much. Having a list of criteria that you created before you’re in the heat of the process helps you tremendously in determining if this role is a match, or not.
Then, it’s up to you to ask the questions, and do the digging necessary to see how well the position and the organization matches your list. No one, no company, and no position will ever be perfect. However, you will be much more aware of what fits and what doesn’t, and make wiser choices.
Possibly, due to your financial situation, you may need to take an offer you know is not a great match for you in order to pay the bills. However, in that situation, at least you are going in with your eyes wide open instead of deceiving yourself into believing you’re taking your dream job and find you’re disappointed later. Most people want to believe that any new job they take is the ‘perfect’ job for them. Know if that’s the case for you before you jump in.
So how do you determine the fit? First, create your list.
Take the time to truly determine the things important to you…
- What kind of physical work environment suits you best?
- What characteristics are important to you in a Manager / Supervisor?
- What management style enables you to do your best work?
- Do you thrive on office politics or whither in a highly political environment?
- What are your true “values” in your job or environment?
- Do you work better as an individual contributor or as part of a team?
- Are you looking for mentorship or an opportunity to be a mentor?
- Are you ready to step up to new responsibilities or still need time to develop?
- How far are you willing to commute to work each day?
- Do you work best in a very structured environment, or with a great deal of freedom?
- Are you looking for an opportunity to be creative, or work within established guidelines?
- Do you like the buzz of a downtown position, or like outlying locations better?
- Do you prefer an environment that allows you to build relationships easily?
- Do you prefer an environment where people tend to keep to themselves?
- Do you prefer a role with a lot of contact with others, or one where you work on your own?
- Do you want to work for a company that is socially responsible, or meaningful in some way?
These, and many other questions help you craft an ideal for your personality, work styles, and preferences. Once you have your criteria, you can be much more deliberate in the interview process.
Interviewers respect and expect questions that seek out answers to those kinds of questions. A good hiring manager will appreciate your desire to determine the fit for you as much as they are determining your fit for them. They want a good match… from both perspectives.
Throughout the process, ask questions at appropriate times like…
- Describe the group I would be working with?
- How would you gage if someone has been successful in this role 6 months into it?
- Where do you see someone successful in this role going next?
- What personality characteristics tend to be most rewarded in this organization?
- What’s the difference between successful people here and ones that only get by?
- Would you say this is a very structured environment or not… can you give me examples?
- What, if any, leadership traits are you looking for in this role?
- How would you describe the company’s values?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What surprised you most after you started working here?
- Tell me about your own path in the company.
…and many others.
Depending on your personal criteria, your questions will vary based on what’s important to you.
Asking these questions throughout the process has multiple benefits…
- They provide the answers you need to make an informed decision.
- It distinguishes you from other candidates that don’t ask those introspective questions.
- It shows you are thoughtful and gather good information in your process.
- It shows you’re not just desperately seeking any new job.
- It shows a sincere interest in knowing about the company, the role, and the people.
These are all good reasons to make sure you’re interviewing the interviewer as much as they are interviewing you! The process should be a 2-way street.
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.