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Would You Really Want to Work There?

Posted October 17, 2010 9:00 AM by KER_Recruiter

What clues can a job seeker gain about the culture of a company during the interview process? How can a job applicant determine whether this place would really be a good place to work? If you're the job applicant, how do you know whether or not you'll fit in?

Company culture can be difficult to interpret since you're looking from the outside in and not from the inside out. Here is a short list of tips, clues, and questions to help you interpret the culture of a company or office.

1) Before the Interview, search Linkedin.com to determine the average duration that employees have lasted with this firm. You'll also be able to tell which career path most, but not all, employees followed to get there. Based on the demographics, you may also be able to tell if the company's workforce is younger or more experienced.

2) When you enter the lobby for an interview, is the receptionist happy, welcoming, and in good spirits? Typically, the receptionist is the first person you see and remember when entering a business. It's a good sign if the company invested wisely in this person. (Note: There is a chance, of course, that the employer may not have a receptionist, or that you're greeted by a security guard. This depends on the type of company and its location.)

3) During a job interview, here's a good question to ask a hiring manager or potential team members: "How does your team or company celebrate success?" This will help you to gauge whether the organization celebrates internally or externally. Personally, I've worked in environments where not a single co-worker engaged in outside activities. I've also worked in other places that have.

4) Analyze the employees' office space. Is it personalized with family pictures, plants, d├ęcor and achievements? Or is it strictly about business?

5) If you are interviewing in the evening, are employees there who have stayed late to finish work? If management stays late to complete assignments, the employees might be expected to stay late, too. (This depends on the company, of course.).

6) Last but not least, ask as many people you know for information about who might have worked or currently works there. This seems obvious, but remember to do it!

Hopefully, these tips, clues, and questions will help you to decide if the company you're interviewing with is right for you. What would you add to this list?

Editor's Note: Jake Briggs (KER_Recruiter) is a Direct Hire Recruiter / Search Consultant for Kelly Engineering Resources in Buffalo, New York. His territory includes the Upstate, NY Region as well as U.S. Based Searches for Engineering, Quality & Operation Management Positions. The views expressed on this Web site/Weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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Guru
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#1

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/17/2010 4:51 PM

At the risk of increasing Jake's consulting fees, I would add the following.

Look at the state of the carparks and building externals. Deterioration or poor maintenance of their own facilities is often a reflection on the management perspective of "what's important".

Secondly, ask for a site tour if possible and then ask to go to the toilets, so that you see the ones used by the staff/employees ratgher than the public ones. Company and employee emotions and levels of respect will be reflected by what you observe there. After all, that's an indication of the type of people that you would end up working with.

Finally, ask people questions outside their field. If the company has "internal interest" then there will be some understanding of the functions and operations of other sections, while a "silo" response would indicate compartmentalised departments with little interaction.

Once you have this information it's then your choice.

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#2

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/17/2010 10:48 PM

It is so difficult to find the job at the moment, so what choice do I have, give me the job and I will try my best to adapt to your culture

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Power-User
Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Hentoyk Philippines - Member - BRUTUS Saudi Arabia - Member - Brutus United Arab Emirates - Member - Brutus

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#3

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/18/2010 12:23 AM

Of course it is quite hard to determine the company profile/culture unless you know somebody employed in the company. My experienced was...I applied for a job wherein the company were engaged more on telecommunication business. I am a License Professional electrical engineer. The HRD manager asked me a simple question...how wide is your knowledge about telecom environment? My reply was... Sir to be honest my area of experienced are from HV/LV generating plant all the way to long-distance power transmission and power distribution system, and in hi-rise building construction electrical wiring design. Infact i felt i was in wrong place, business and time to fit-in the job.. but luckily the HRD Manager said okey i have the other job for you since our Company is a multi-national I will accept you and you will be the Project Engineer in Electrical Division. Sometimes we under estimate ourselves and the entirety of Company's Profile, and note that not all the key-vacant position/s are anounced in the adds. Being an engineer you have to be a multi-skilled...not just specialized in one field(say electrical), but in some areas of mechanical, architectural, AutoCAD as well. These are the reason why the company hired me because electrical power system involved structural transmission tower plus autocad drawing plans... and at least you might be able to designed it as rules of strength of material and mechanics subject in College are applicable to be able to understand its terminology when running the STAAD software. My role in the company are both electrical, structural and autocad wherein i did not expect to happen in my career. My bottom line is the intervier can switch or divert other question beyond your expectation and can offer you an interesting job which is adaptable to you during your 3-months probationary period...getting into another field can broaden and widen your career and work experienced.

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Guru

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#4

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/18/2010 6:03 AM

Some of the tips are quite useful.

* It is always the oral enquiry about the company and its culture are reliable provided the company discloses its name. If P.O Box number is given you got nothing to do.

Just apart from those mentioned a few additions:

* Fewer the professional people in the board, the company is professional. If too much of people are found on the board with so many technical doughts and questions, one can decide they are seeking solutions to their existing problems.

*How gentle and listening the interviewers again the sign of culture in the organization.

*The face to face interaction during the interview is the best sample where one can really study the heart of the people- in fact it is a mutual assessment process where one can know about other. The art of face reading one should master about.Rather your mind will tell you instantly.

* Certainty of the employer is notable by quick decisions and negotiations and questions like 'how much time will you take to join us?' etc.We will let you know soon is an indication of negativity and lack of interest or indecisiveness on the employer's part.

* Finally it is the question of mutual matching which can end up either way selection or rejection- it is an endless world and look for other options

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Guru
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#5

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/18/2010 8:53 AM

Thanks for blogging about this topic, Jake. To what you've written, I'd add the following from my own experience.

If the interview process is chaotic, the company is probably crisis-driven. For example, if you're supposed to meet with a series or a panel of people - and the key decision makers keep getting pulled out of the interview for phone calls, etc. - then you can bet that "fighting fires" is part of the company's culture.

Some people thrive in such an environment. Others don't. Know thyself.

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#6

Re: Would You Really Want to Work There?

10/18/2010 9:20 AM

Thanks everyone for your feedback and replies! Great to see the input and that we can all learn from each others experiences!

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