Choosing the right job is incredibly important. No-one wants to accept a new position and be unhappy or find the role or company vastly different to their expectations. However, being disappointed after changing jobs is increasingly common. As most hiring has been done remotely for the past two years, this has made it more difficult for some candidates to get a feel for their new workplace and potential employer.
Wrongly evaluating a new job at interview can have stressful side-effects. If a new role is a bad fit, we can either stay and be unhappy or face starting another stressful job search. Also, we may have concerns on how leaving a role suddenly will look on our CV.
However, doing research, being observant and asking the right questions, will help you find a role that is a good match for you.
Look at the company’s values
A good place to start when evaluating whether a new company will suit you is to find out about their mission and values. Their website should contain this information or you can find out more from their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page. According to Indeed, ‘43% of candidates say they are attracted to a new job because of meaningful work.’ By researching a company’s core mission, you’ll find out if their goals and ideals are also meaningful to you.
Visit review sites like Glassdoor to discover people’s feelings on what it’s like to work for the company. If employees seem unhappy, stressed or there’s a high rate of turnover consider this before applying or accepting an offer.
Ask your network for opinions
Ask friends and trusted colleagues what they know about the company you are applying to. If you’re a recent graduate, check LinkedIn to see if any alumni are currently working there who you could contact to find out more. This may provide an alternative view which you can use to compare against your review-site research.
The recruitment process is often compared to dating as both parties are making a decision about whether they want to commit. The interview stage is when the employer is hoping to win you over, so bear in mind that they may try to draw attention away from their faults.
Although their mission statement, values or aspirational language of their website may have made you excited at the prospect of working for this brand, try to stay grounded in the interview. Stay alert to how they interact with you and watch out for the following red flags.
Signs that this company might not make the ideal employer
1. Poor communication
Scrutinise the contact they make when offering an interview. If it’s unclear about what format the interview will take, where you need to be or who you’ll be meeting with, this suggests poor company communication. Also, take note if emails seem impolite or badly written. While you’re unlikely to back out of the process based on a misspelling, missteps might add up and convince you to look elsewhere.
2. They don’t respect your time
If a company doesn’t treat you well as a candidate, while they are trying to impress you, it will only get worse as an employee. One of the first clues you’ll get is how the potential employer treats your time.
When they inform you of your interview, do they ask what date and time would be convenient for you or give you an appointment to fit in around them?
When it comes to the interview do they keep you waiting? Although delays are sometimes unavoidable, if they keep you waiting for 15 minutes or more, you’d be right to expect an apology. Although this may seem slight, such errors on their part suggests you should be on guard for other signs that they don’t put employees first.
3. Lack of Transparency During the Recruitment Process
Is the recruiting process full of extra steps or tests which weren’t explained as being part of the original process? Are there delays between stages where you are left with no explanation? These suggest, (at best) that the company is disorganised.
Recruiters should explain in advance what the recruitment process will entail, the stages you have to pass through and when you will receive notice as to whether or not you’ve been successful. If it seems they don’t mind treating candidates badly by stringing them along, it may be wise to take your talent elsewhere.
4.They expect full disclosure but won’t give the same in return
If the company want to know your current salary details, then this suggests they aren’t valuing you on your skills, experience, and talents. Unless they reciprocate by telling you what you will be paid for the role during the interview, then this isn’t a fair exchange.
5. If you don’t like the way you are treated during the interview
In addition to your first impressions of the manager during the interview, pay close attention to their manner. Impoliteness, interrupting, or sarcasm are signs that their rudeness and lack of professionalism will be even worse in the office.
Also, if managers belittle your achievements at interview they are likely to be unsupportive and highly critical to work for. It’s not only a matter of whether you think you can tolerate them. Employees rarely produce their best work when working with this type of person.
6. Bad-mouthing current or former employees
It’s highly unprofessional for an interviewer to speak negatively about colleagues or the person who previously held the role. Unwittingly, it will, however, give you an insight into what it would be like to work there and what would be expected of you. Either way, it’s unlikely to be positive.
What questions should I ask to learn more about the role?
Remember that interviews are a two-way process: you need to learn as much about the employer as they do about you. Just as they want this opportunity to discover whether you are the right candidate, you need to be able to evaluate whether this is the right next move for you.
Asking questions is essential in order to steer the conversation towards the things they haven’t covered but are key in making your decision.
If they don't give you time to ask questions during the interview, make sure you ask to do so at the end. If they seem to want to avoid this or rush you out, that's bad. It suggests they are focused only on their own interests or maybe have something to hide.
These questions will help you evaluate what it is like to work for this employer.
- Can you describe what a typical day would entail?
- What's do you enjoy about working here?
- What social or team activities are held?
- Who would I be working the closest with and when would I meet them?
- What personality traits are the best fit for this role?
Career site ‘The Muse’ also recommend asking whether the team typically go out for lunch or eat at their desks. This is a great way to get an insight into whether the team is sociable, and whether the work environment is relaxed or staff are so pressured they don’t get to take a proper break.
Employee Satisfaction Questions
- How long have the other team members been in their roles?
- Why is the position vacant?
- Will there be an opportunity to meet current employees?
- Does the company have an out of hours contact policy?
- Do employees usually take all their annual leave?
The first questions will help you find out about staff turnover. High turnover is often a signal of a stressful work environment, a bad manager, or other sources of employee dissatisfaction.
Meeting current employees before accepting an offer can be invaluable. A recent article by Forbes warns that, ‘If you're not allowed to meet with your prospective co-workers "because they're too busy," you know a lot about the culture (and it's not good).’
The last questions will give you an idea of the work / life balance of current employees. Employment law experts, Worknest, found that employees not taking their holiday allowance often correlate with excessive workloads or a workplace culture where people are discouraged for taking time off.
Career Progress Questions
Some people worry about seeming pushy by asking about career progression at interview. However, it makes sense for both you and a potential employer to have some idea of whether you can fulfil your career goals within their company. You are less likely to leave within the first two years if your new role offers scope for promotion or developing useful new skills.
Fast Company recently published a great article about how to balance asking about prospects for promotion in an interview without coming across as arrogant.
They suggest asking:
- How do you help good performers grow?
- How could a person in this role really stand out and impress you?
- Can you tell me how you’d compensate this type of performance / if someone goes beyond your expectations?
Is it time to call in the experts?
If all this leg-work seems daunting then consider getting expert help. Good recruitment agencies form long-term relationships with the companies they recruit for. This means they have a good understanding of an organisation’s culture and expectations and will share this information with you prior to applying for the role.
It is in a recruiter’s best interests for you to be happy in your new role; companies value recruiters who reduce their costs by finding candidates who want to stay.
Finding a good recruiter certainly helps you avoid starting a new role with doubts from a lack of information. Leaving you to look forward to getting started in your new role.