When you go for a job interview, it can feel like a beauty parade, where you are being assessed for your suitability for the role and the company.
But interviews are a two-way process: you have an agenda too which includes assessing whether you would like to work for the organisation. Will the role play to your strengths? Is there scope for development and progression? What will your boss be like? Will you get on with your colleagues?
Encompassing all of these areas is the question of the culture – the way people in the organisation behave – and whether it “fits” with your style and preferences.
As the interview process progresses and you know that you are getting closer to being offered a role, ask the interviewer questions to help you assess whether the organisation is right for you. Here are some suggestions:
– What are you most proud of about this organisation – and what would you like to change?
– What is employee morale like?
– What are the politics like in this organisation?
– How would you describe the management style of the organisation?
– How does the organization support development and career progression?
– What is the attitude to taking risks?
– What happens when people make mistakes?
– How is success recognised?
– Is there more emphasis on inputs (eg hours spent in the office) or outputs (eg what people achieve)?
– How is feedback given?
– What role do company values play in recruiting new employees and reviewing performance?
– What happens when people disagree and how is it settled?
– What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?
– Do you sponsor local volunteer events?
– Does the company put on social outings or events for employees?
– If you were going to describe your company’s culture, what would you say?
– What is people’s approach to work-life balance like in this organisation?
– How do the company’s different departments collaborate with one another?
– What traits do people display that help them to succeed in this organisation?
– Would I be able to meet some of my colleagues/team?
You can also look at websites such as “Glassdoor” to see what current and past employees say, or examine online customer reviews to understand more about how the organisation is viewed. And of course, try very hard through your contacts and their contacts (you can use LinkedIn to help you with this) to find people who have worked or work in the organisation and talk to them about their experience.
Ultimately, you need to make your own judgement based on your gut feelings when you are walking through the building before and after the interview, and during the interview itself. The key question is: “Does the organisation and the people I have met feel right for me?”