By Gerald Walsh ©
Interviews are far from perfect. Think about it. You spend a couple of hours in meetings with the employer, where everyone is on their best behaviour.
Then, if you are offered the job, you have another few days to consider it before you must decide if you should quit your current job and take this new one.
You are being forced to make an important life decision on a small amount of information.
Some will argue the employer takes the same risk. That’s true. Both sides are taking a risk. But the consequences are bigger for you if things don’t work out.
How do you figure out if a company is the right fit for you?
This is not easy. After all, you’ve probably been to your potential employer’s workplace only a couple of times and met only a handful of people. It is almost impossible to judge, from these brief interactions, whether you will be happy there.
So, it’s important that you do your due diligence to find out if this is the place for you. Here is what you should try to find out:
Will I like the work?
Will I like the people, including my boss?
Will I be given an opportunity to learn and grow?
Will I be compensated fairly for my work?
Do my values align with the employer’s values?
Here are steps you can take:
1. Get to know your immediate boss better. This is your most important relationship and one which will have a big impact on your happiness and growth. Perhaps suggest meeting them off-site for a coffee or lunch. In that meeting, you should develop a better understanding of what they are like as a person and as a boss. Try to get a sense of their values to see how they align with yours’. Find out how they measure success and what kind of feedback you will receive.
2. Meet with your prospective co-workers. They will give you insight on what it’s like to work there. Ask what they like best about the company. What they like least. Find out about career growth and what learning opportunities they have received. Inquire about the “real” work expectations of the boss, like overtime and weekends.
3. Speak to outsiders like former employees, customers, suppliers and consultants. They should be able to give you an unbiased, objective assessment of the company’s culture. For former employees, ask why they left the company.
4. Learn more about the organization’s style. Ask about the kind of career path you might expect, and how promotions happen. Ask about their biggest worries and concerns for the future. Ask about the good and bad aspects of the job, encouraging the boss to be open and honest with you.
5. Trust your gut. Although you should never make an important decision based on intuition alone, it does play an important role when combined with other tangible evidence. Once you’ve completed the first four steps, sit back and do some soul searching and ask if you fit in that organization. In the end, you need to trust your own judgment.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.