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Do You Really Want This Job

Posted by Patra Frame

Making bad choices in accepting a job happens to us all at least once. The reason is often related to whether you are a good fit for the organization, the position, and the boss. You know companies often consider ‘fit’ in deciding who to hire, but making sure this is the right opportunity means you need to assess whether you fit them too.

How Do I Know I’m a Good Fit

Good fit has to do with whether the opportunity offers what you need to succeed. Do they share values which match yours? Do they offer growth related to your career goals? Are you able to succeed in their environment? Working with this boss? On this team?

Many of us think of this as the ‘culture’ of an organization. Fewer understand how to evaluate these issues. Virtual interviews and remote work often make this more difficult.

Begin by thinking about the best and worst bosses you have worked for and what made each ‘best’ or ‘worst’ – this helps you understand what you are looking for in a boss. Then think about your preferences:

  • How much control do you want over your work?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?
  • Are you more comfortable in building something or working within pre-set rules?
  • What’s your preferred work and communications style?
  • How much responsibility do you want?

Go through the things you know about yourself so you can assess what you need to succeed. Add in your goals for the job and longer-term career goals. Now you know what is essential to learn so as to understand if the job is a good match for your needs and goals.

I was recently talking with someone who had four options to consider. Like many, he had focused mostly on the money. That’s dangerous.

We talked about the differing roles and what each meant in terms of development and future career options. We discussed the hiring managers, each company’s hiring process, and so on. Suddenly there were only two potentials and it was much easier to decide which one was the best match. Fortunately, he had thought about what he wanted in this next step and had created a set of career goals. This made the discussion clear.

Knowing what is important to you is vital to successful job search, so start there if you have not already defined a career plan to guide your search. Once you created your career plan, then list the deal-breakers, absolute ‘no’ issues or must-have needs. These can range from position-specific items, to benefits of vital importance, to whether the commute is feasible. Whatever would make you say, “No, not worth it.” This process will save you time and will help when facing with a tough decision.

Assessing Fit

1. Start assessing fit when you are selecting target employers. Which match your career goals? Offer paths forward of interest to you? Meet your job search criteria?

Look at any potential employer’s website in detail. What do they say about themselves? Do they offer any evidence of stated values in use? Look carefully at their career section – is it detailed or brief, fluff or evidence-based? If they make their employee handbook available, read it. While not many do, these documents tell you a lot about how a company treats its employees and its values. Talk is cheap—policies and practices are much more of a tell.

Check out the employer on sites like Glassdoor and Vault. Do recognize that unhappy people are more likely to write reviews than happy ones are. But read whatever you find and see if there are patterns of interest.

Then move to the people you know. Who does or has worked there? What will they tell you? If you do not know anyone who has worked there, ask for introductions to people who do. Check your connections on LinkedIn or other social media for those with experience at the employer too.

2. Pay attention to their hiring process. What does it tell you about the value of the position to the employer? Is the application process fairly easy or a pain? Is the process organized and positive, or not? Stuff happens in companies all the time, so a few delays or errors is not a killer – but a pattern of them is.

How responsive is the recruiter to your questions? Do they keep you informed of any changes or delays?

Once you know who the hiring manager is, check them out online. Look for information that gives you an idea of what the person’s career has been so far, potential connections, and common interests. These help you prepare to interview and to ask the right questions to see if you can work together successfully.

  • Does the hiring manager expect you to be immediately available at their convenience, or do they respect your time and needs?
  • How many people are involved in the hiring process?
  • Do you get to talk with peers and team members directly?
  • Are they willing to answer your questions?
  • Do they give you a clear picture of the role and responsibilities? Of what it is like to work there?
  • Is the hiring manager clear about the role and client expectations?
  • Conducting a real conversation or running an interrogation or talking over you?
  • Are they prepared for the interview?

3. You should have specific questions about the role. Below are questions that help you assess the culture and fit, and to understand the employer. Think about what is most important to you and ask those. Don’t just ask your potential boss – some of these are great to ask everyone you interview with. Pick a few for each person you talk with, including company recruiters.

Adam Grant, the best selling author and Wharton professor, recommends a great question for assessing culture: “What is something that would only happen here, but would not at other organizations?” When you ask this, be prepared for some platitudes or for an ‘oh-oh’ look or some silence as the person tries to think about it. But if you can get specifics in an answer, it is highly valuable.

Questions About Culture and Values

  • What have you learned while here that will influence your future work choices?
  • How has working here changed you?
  • What about the environment here brings out your best work?
  • What core values add the most to the organization’s success?
  • Which core values are in name only?
  • If you could change anything in/about the company, what would it be?
  • How did company leadership respond in the early stages of the Covid crisis?
  • What would 1-to-1s be like with my manager? What topics are covered? (Ask that of team members and others, ask the hiring manager the direct version – and see what matches.)
  • What common characteristics do you find among people who are successful here?
  • When and why have employees left the work unit in the last two years?
  • How do information and ideas flow upward in the work unit and the company?

Questions for the Boss

  • What do you expect a successful person to achieve in this job in the first 30-60-90 days?
  • Thinking of the most successful people who have worked for you, what made them successful?
  • How do you prefer to manage people? What causes deviations from that?
  • What is the hardest feedback you have received? Given? And why?
  • What is the difference between being good in this job and being excellent?
  • How are goals set for this position and department?
  • What will others tell me about working with you?
  • How did you get to this position?
  • Why is the position vacant and what happened to the last two people who held the job?

Questions for the Next Level Boss if You Have a Choice

  • What is the difference between being good in this company and being excellent?
  • How are goals set for this position and department?
  • What will others tell me about working here?
  • How did you get to this position?
  • What’s the future of this function? This contract?
  • What type of person gets development opportunities here? Promoted?

As you ask these questions, look at how the interviewer reacts to your question and the quality of their answers. While this is most vital with the potential boss, every answer can tell you a lot about the culture. Compare the answers you get to one-two questions across all the interviews to see whether there is normal variety or big contradictions. Focus on the big differences to understand more.

I am a big fan of taking notes in interviews. Do that with each question you ask. This helps you decide if you can succeed in the organization with that boss. Remember the culture and values of an organization and your fit with them usually makes the difference between an OK short-term job and one that contributes to your success long-term.

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 22, 2021 1:24 pm

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