In Job Interviews, Look Before You Leap

When you go on an interview, especially a later round interview at the company office, you will want to make sure that you gather as much information about the company, role, culture, and people as the interviewer(s) gather about you. You should be interviewing the interviewer. Just like they are trying to make sure that you are a good fit for their team, you want to make sure that they are a good fit for you too.

Here are some tips and questions to ask to help you get a sense of whether or not a company or role is going to be a good fit for you.

Evaluate What’s Important. Knowing yourself (your values, interests, skills, and personality) will give you some concrete markers to measure each role and company against. Make sure that the day-to-day activities are mostly comprised of things that you are good at and enjoy doing. There will always be a few tasks in every job that you don’t like, but it is important that you like and do well with the majority of what you spend time on, otherwise you will burn out quickly. You will also want to make sure that you get the training and support you need to do the job well and that there is opportunity for growth in the role or company as you master the job you are hired for.

Get the Facts. Some questions to ask the hiring manager include: What does a typical week look like? What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed? What changes to the company/role/projects do you anticipate in the next 6 months to a year? What does success look like after one year in this position? What does training look like at the start of this position and what types of ongoing professional development are typical?

Research the Culture. You also want to make sure that the company culture and people are a good match for you. You spend a great deal of time with the people on your team, being managed by your boss, and representing the company. You want to make sure that you enjoy being with those people and feel good about what the company is working towards. Ask questions like: What’s your favorite part about working here? What are some goals of the company and how does this team work to support achieving those goals? What are you most excited about in the company’s/team’s future? How would you describe the team that I will be working on? Can you tell me about the last team event you did together here? What is the most positive part of working here, and what would you change if you could?

Some of the information you gather will be purely observational. How comfortable did people seem answering questions about challenges on the team? Did people seem passionate about their work and the company when asked about it? Is the building easy to get to? How will your commute be? Do you like the office layout (cubicles or closed offices)? Were people welcoming even before they knew you were interviewing? Were they friendly with each other?

Tune out the many things going through your head about your own performance and really listen to what you are feeling.

If you get the wrong vibe for any reason, pay attention and ask yourself if you can see yourself spending 40+ hours a week there.

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