First things first: there’s no way to tell, with absolute certainty, what it will be like to work for a company before you sign on the dotted line. That said, you can do your due diligence ahead of time to figure out whether the corporate culture is a good fit for you and up your chances of making the right choice. Research the company on the internet and pay attention to its interactions with employees and customers on social media — but most of all, watch for these important signs when you meet with the hiring manager during your interview.
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Maybe she’s disorganized; maybe she’s understaffed. Whatever’s going on, it’s not a good sign, especially if she doesn’t seem fussed by the idea of making you wait. Courtesy is a two-way street, especially during a job interview. This is where the old adage, “they’re not just interviewing you, you’re interviewing them,” comes into play.
2. Support staff is stressed or upset.
I once went to a job interview at which the administrative assistant who showed me in spoke only in a nervous whisper. Again, maybe it was unrelated to the stresses of the job. Still, it didn’t bode well for the rest of the interview. (Which went poorly.)
3. The work environment is too quiet or too loud.
This is more of a personal preference issue. If you’re an introvert, a library-silent office might seem like Disneyworld, but if you need some conversation in your workday, it’ll bum you out before you ever set foot in your cube. The opposite is also true: if you need quiet to concentrate, that 24/7 foosball game is going to get old, real quick.
4. The hiring manager doesn’t answer your questions, or allow you to speak to someone who will.
You ask your question about corporate culture; he deflects. You request a tour of the office; he declines. On a second or third interview, you’re not allowed to meet even one person who would work on your team, except for the big boss. Run. There’s a good reason they don’t want you to meet the other prisoners, er, employees.
5. They talk a lot about perks that seem geared toward keeping you at the office.
Free lunch and dinner are great, and so is an in-office ball pit, but unless you’re fresh out of college and have no time-consuming hobbies, you want to go home at some point. If the chatter is all about how much fun it is to be at work and not about how the company supports its employees, it might be time to reconsider.
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