In my last article, I promised to tell you more about how to determine whether a company is a right fit for you based on their interview process. Without further ado, here are the tips I’ve gathered:
Work atmosphere – your impression. When first brought into the office for an interview, take some time to check out your surroundings. Do employees look content sitting at their desks, or is there some amount of tension in the air? Does there seem to be open communication between them? Is there a sense of orderliness in the way tasks are being accomplished?
Granted, these things are hard to figure out from just one visit to the office, but you’ll at least get an idea. Certain things we initially trivialize, such as sound/light levels and coziness of work space are also important factors. To be productive, it’s necessary to be in an environment you’re comfortable in. Remember that you could be working here soon, so carefully consider whether you’d fit into a place like this.
Work atmosphere – their impression. When you step in for your interview, it’s likely you form a reasonably accurate first impression of what it’s like to work at that company. It’s also important to talk to the people interviewing you – your potential colleagues and managers.
Apart from asking them what they like and dislike about working for the company overall, here are some specific questions to ask, once you get a chance:
Which team within the company is your interviewer from?
What is a typical day as part of their team like?
What’s going well for their team so far?
What difficulties are their team facing?
What role would you potentially play on their team?
What are the general work hours like?
This should give you a good idea about their work culture, and whether this is a good fit for you.
Speaking of a good fit… Determine whether the role described fits your background, and importantly if this is something you’d like to do. If parts of the role description are vague, ask for clarification – it’s crucial to know what you’re getting into. Also, if you’re feeling somewhat unprepared for the role, ask if it would be fine to learn what you don’t know on the job. Most companies are aware that new employees require some amount of mentoring. A piece of advice to entry-level job applicants: A good manager will understand that while skills can be picked up on the job, strong fundamentals, determination, and a willingness to learn are key. Conversely, if you identify aspects of the role you’re strong in, offer ways in which you can contribute. Essentially, during the interview, give your best and try to get as much by asking the right questions.
Potential for growth and development. Chances are, you’re looking for a role with some amount of flexibility. Would you be able to switch teams when the time comes? Would you be able to take on multiple roles to learn more and do more? Especially for fresh grad hires: Aim to learn and contribute as much as you can, since your first job is the stepping stone to your almost-lifelong career. Also, since you don’t yet know much about your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes in industry, a job with some amount of flexibility will allow you to play to your strengths and do more of what you love.
If you have any more questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to chat. Bye for now!