Whether you’re looking for your first job, a career change, that big break or another hop along the way, interview nerves are the last…
Have you ever worked for a company where you just didn’t quite fit in? It seemed like a great role, an impressive brand and the interviewers sold you a company that was really going places. Yet a few months in that buzz is long gone, the dreams you had been promised seem unlikely and that get-up-and-go mentality you had in the first week is a distant memory.
You needn’t blame yourself. There is also probably no point blaming the company. Yes, perhaps they mis-sold you the dream, but the reality is that it is not the place for you. The good news is that no two organisations are exactly the same. Like lovers, your perfect fit is out there somewhere. Unlike lovers, it doesn’t need to be a perfect match to give you the daily fulfilment you need to enjoy your job and get what you want from your career. So with most recruitment processes consisting of one or two interviews (increasingly not even face-to-face), how can you maximise the opportunity to assess culture fit before you accept the job?
1. Be Yourself
Remember that an interview is a two-way meeting. You will never find ultimate workplace happiness if you change yourself to accommodate your assumptions about the hiring manager and their needs. You may be able to sell yourself as the perfect employee at an interview, but do you want to keep up the façade of being someone else for the rest of your employment? The role of the interviewer is to assess whether you will be suitable for the role and company. Your role is to assess whether the role and company are suitable for you.
2. Research Company Values
You should be able to find out about company values, vision and behaviours on the company website before your interview. Consider how they align with your own values and what impact they may have in a working environment. If there are specific areas that you would like to probe in the interview, direct your questions to uncover real-life examples of the values in action. The vision may not necessarily fit the reality, so use this is as starting point to explore. If you get the opportunity to walk around the office, utilise this time to analyse the work environment – pay particular attention to how people interact with one another, how engaged they seem in their work and the diversity of the teams.
3. Interview your Interviewer(s)
Whatever you do, do not forfeit the opportunity to ask your own questions during an interview. Your interviewer is likely to be your closest insight into life at the organisation prior to your start date should the process be successful. Here are some ideas for questions that might help explore the company culture:
- Why do people leave?
- What has made you stay?
- What challenges have you faced with change/diversity/growth/brand?
- If you could change one thing, what would it be?
These questions will give you an insight into employee development, culture, organisational structure and behaviour. If your interviewer seems open to discuss, take the opportunity to probe further. Tailor your questions to their role and seniority. For example, an HR Manager should be well suited to discuss leadership values and approaches to people management, whereas a junior operational employee might be more likely to discuss team challenges.
Whatever you ask and however much you find out, use the information to make an informed decision that’s best for you. We spend a lot of time at work and the satisfaction we get (or don’t get) from the workplace can have a huge impact on our time out of work. If you have a dream, don’t let a bad cultural fit prevent you from achieving it. Find your fit and make it happen!