Do you remember the last time you had a job offer?
A time of excitement, and relief; you are on an emotional high and the adrenaline is pumping, which also means your judgement is impaired.
At this moment, you need a Reality Check!
As soon as the company is interested in us, we fall into a vortex, we see the finish line to a tedious job search and our judgment falls away. Our senses abandon us. When we should be asking tough questions, we think “I want that offer!” and if we get it, we sign it and say “Phew! At least I have a job now.”
Then the painful learning comes. If you’ve ever taken a horrible job just because you were desperate, you know what I’m talking about. You can tell within two days on the job that it’s not the right place for you, but you’ve painted yourself into a corner.
You have to decide then whether to start a new, under-the-radar job search and get a new position while you’re working at the role you’ve got, or just walk out and hope for the best.
The thing is, for too many jobs, the candidates spend the majority of the interview process trying to convince the employer that they are worthy of the job, instead of evaluating whether an open position is right for them.
Here are some questions that will help you make a smarter decision when you’re considering a job offer. If you feel nervous about asking these perfectly reasonable questions of your next boss, a recruiter or HR person; take that as a warning.
CAUTION: getting to know if the job is really right for you comes at a price. The price of being self-confident and bold enough to ask them. Because the truth is, most of the time, it will be difficult to ask these questions…
Especially if you are not one of the top candidates for this position.
1 – Did you meet all the people you will have to work with..?
Do you picture yourself having a positive and successful relationship with them…?
It sounds obvious but it is quite usual that the first interviews are with people you won’t even have contact with when you are working there. At the beginning, you probably meet the senior manager, the HR or the CEO and then eventually your day to day manager. Tread carefully here….
Not meeting your future colleagues makes it difficult to have a clear idea of the team dynamics in the department and how you will fit into it. The solution: you must try to spend as much time speaking with your direct colleagues and managers. Ask them about their management styles, what they do during their spare time or if they have team events, try to get the maximum amount of information. You will spend time the vast majority of your daytime with these people.
If it is not in the process to meet them, you have to insist to meet them.
These questions are legitimate and will support you in your decision. If you don’t feel right at the beginning, it is a sign that the position may not be the right fit.
2 – Did you spend some time in the offices of your future employer?
Nowadays, many interviews are conducted through recruitment agencies, by telephone and even over Skype. Accepting a job remotely may be risky, since you could discover that the company culture isn’t the right fit once you get there.
Spend as much time on-site as possible. Ask for a tour of the office when you come in for an interview. Try evaluating the energy in the offices and the interactions between the colleagues. Is the work environment quiet or lively…? By spending time physically in the building you’ll be able to get a much better sense of the company culture.
3 – Did you check out online reviews and news about the company?
Did you call the person that would be able to give you inside information about this company?
These days’ people have no problem leaving feedback about companies online. Several forums have cropped up where you can look into reviews and get a better sense of the type of pitfalls at certain companies.
Maybe you have a family and you see that the place is notorious for assigning sporadic shifts and long hours. Though you might not want to decline a job offer just because of these type of anonymous reviews, they can guide the type of questions you should ask during an interview.
4 – What is an ordinary workday like here — in terms of working hours?
I know some companies start very early and finish early, for instance. In some places, everybody makes their own hours. How does it work here?
You must know if the employer you’re considering joining is the kind of place where an ordinary workday starts at 08.00. and ends at 20.00. You have to ask them what constitutes a workday!
5 – How does the company handle communication after hours and on the weekends?
At some jobs, you stay in pretty close touch with my the boss when there are big projects brewing. How does it work here?
Always ask this question and avoid getting a stuck in a situation where you have no peace because the office is always calling and texting you.
6 – How does the department communicate, and how do the various departments here communicate together?
The answer you want to hear to this question is “I have a weekly/monthly one-on-one meetings with each person on my team, unless we’re all going crazy in which case we meet less often – it’s organic…”
“We have a newsletter and our HR department does a great job of getting people together for lunch-and-learn sessions and that kind of thing.”
The answer you don’t want to hear is “I’ll tell you anything you need to know about the job. Our department communicates by email. You won’t have much to do with other departments, so don’t worry about that.”
7 – How do the company keep the people motivated…?
How do they support them to grow and learn new things? How do they assist each other?
The sad and typical answer would be something like: ‘Huh…’.
You want to hear that people share their knowledge and expertise, that everybody brings something new coming along with their personal experience and that they are excited to integrate you and learn from you
These questions should support you in the decision. Another critical point is for you to stay neutral.
You could also choose a good friend and tell them all the details. This friend will be your advisor in this situation. Neutral and helpful to support you to make the right decision.
I’m Stéphane, I am huge people person and spent five year in the financial industry but a few year ago I got inspired to get into technical recruiting. There is nothing greater than finding professional opportunities for smart people to do great things, it is a fantactic process and I feel lucky to participate in.