For forever it seems, candidates have been directed to research companies before they apply, and definitely before they interview. Common sense, know before you go.
And more and more, candidates are doing that, to survive that point in the interview when the recruiter, and subsequently the hiring manager turns to them and says…do you have any questions for me?
Think about it…job searching is sort of like speed dating with a twist. In dating, you’re not normally committed after two, three dates, but job searching…you may have an offer in hand. And a day or two to make a life decision.
So you have to question everything. We are in an age where anyone can review anything, and often there is no way to validate comments made. Interviews are a golden opportunity to ask the “why” and “how” questions.
How should you prep? Try these strategies:
1. Visit Google, and then Bing. Key in the company and sift through News sites and reviews. If public, check the stock price/history.
2. Track the sites and items of interest you find. Highlight anything that is a flag that you may want to explore more deeply.
3. Check your LinkedIn network. Who do you know that works at the company or even has a company connection? Ask for a quick call or to grab coffee. There is never anything wrong with networking and it will give you insight into the company without recruitment attached.
4. Take online reviews with a grain of salt. I always do this, whether it’s for travel, restaurants, or employers. Usually the pissed off are the most likely to write comments. I’ve watched small businesses in my local neighborhood take big hits as disgruntled customers weigh in online with a campaign to cause chaos.
5. Is the research you’re reviewing factual? Opinion? Is it validated by legitimate sources? What does validation mean? How do you know the commenter legitimately is or was affiliated with the organization? I started discounting anonymous comments a long time ago, unless I could tie to a legitimate resource.
But don’t stop there, build your questions. I have a love/hate relationship with the STAR Interview process, but I absolutely believe when you are interviewing you should bring questions, that are open ended and behavioral in nature to learn more about new your potential new employer and successfully gauge your future manager’s style.
Without a doubt, company culture is a huge focus for all these days. Money, benefits and the fringe perks keep us whole, or even better. But culture, that keeps us happy. It makes us want to go into work, we look forward to collaborating with our team, we seize the challenges and when they seem impossible, navigate them anyway.
What kind of questions will help you find out more about your boss’ style and the company culture? Try these:
- Tell me about a time your team was under a tight deadline. What was the project? How many were involved? How did you drive the team to meet the deadline?
- What is your favorite benefit or perk of working for XYZ company?
- Can you describe to me your manager’s style?
- What do you wish XYZ Company would do for it’s employees to make it even more of an employer of choice?
Lastly, once you’ve researched and interviewed your future employer, and have an offer in hand, figure out your why. Every time I’ve changed a job, there’s been a why. I’ve been happiest in the jobs where I took it for the cultural fit. Where I’ve gone for the money, my tenure has been much shorter and I’ve targeted the two year mark to check in and make a decision about moving on. Know why you’re making your choice. Awareness of your why, and what the Company offers holistically is critically important to your future happiness and success.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.