When you’re job hunting, you may be tempted to give in and accept an offer from any company willing to hire you.
When it’s time for a company interview, you can easily get carried away with trying to impress your potential employer when really, they should be out to impress you as well because the hiring process is really a two-way street.
You may be enveloped with questioning if you will fit in with the company and tend to forget you should also be gunning to work for an employer you actually like and whose goals and objectives you can get on board with.
You’ll often get a few clues as you go through the application process that will enable you to tell whether or not the company is a place you would enjoy being employed at.
Being able to spot these clues gives you a leg up on making your decision and you’ll be glad you were able to decipher if the employer was a great fit for you as well before accepting their offer.
We’ve put together a list of what you can look out for through the hiring process to help you get a clear idea of how to interview potential employers to see if they fit you.
How to research a potential employer before your interview
When you see a job posting with a description that seems to fit you down to a tee, the first thing on your mind is applying immediately and waiting to hear back from their hiring managers.
Before you apply…
It’s important that you research all you can about a company before your interview.
This will help you prepare for some of their questions and also have some questions of your own. Here are a few things you should know about the company before your interview.
What to know about a company before you interview
a) Do you understand what they do?
Do some research and learn about what it is the company actually does.
Find out what industry they operate in, read up all the material on their websites and press releases as well as asking people around you questions about the organization so you understand everything about what they do.
This will also help you prepare for the interview properly with some questions of your own.
b) What is their product/service?
It would be embarrassing to turn up for an interview with no idea what the company’s product or service is.
Even if your role is not directly involved with providing the company’s product or service, you should have a knowledge of what your prospective employer puts out.
This will also help you make a decision on whether you want to work with them or not as they may be creating a product or rendering a service you do not want to align yourself with.
c) Are they growing?
Some people work well in small close-knit organizations while others work well in large corporations.
Researching on the growth potential of your prospective employer will also tell you whether or not there are opportunities for you to grow and develop in the role as well. A growing company allows you to learn especially if you are just starting off your career.
d) Employer reviews (what do others in the role you are pursuing say about the company?
Employee reviews are one of the best ways to get information on an organization or employer.
Previous and/or current employees can give the most accurate description of what working at the company is like.
There are several sites where you can contact employees with your questions like LinkedIn or glassdoor and get some honest answers.
e) Can you get passionate about the company’s product/service?
After learning all about the company’s product or service, the next thing to ask yourself is whether or not you can be passionate about it.
If it’s something you don’t see yourself ever truly caring about, it might result in a drab work experience where you don’t feel motivated to give your best when it comes to delivering a valuable product or service.
Being sure you can get excited about your employer’s service even years after joining the company means they are the right fit for you.
How to prepare for the company interview?
i) What do hiring managers expect you to know?
The internet is your friend! Learn as much as you can about the kinds of questions you may be asked and get the right answers ready.
Find out about what the role entails from people in similar positions in different organizations. This way you can tell if what you know actually fits with what the company expects you to know in order to get the job done well.
ii) What pain are they experiencing that they want you to be able to solve?
Try to discover what gaps exist in the company at the moment and what pains they are experiencing that your skills will be able to solve.
If the gaps you discover are things you cannot help them solve, then the employer may not be the best fit for you.
As you prepare for the company interview, knowing what the pain points of the company are and knowing you can contribute to solving them helps you feel more confident when you step into the interview.
iii) How to respond to, “how can you add value to a company interview question?”
This question comes up in every interview and is your opportunity to show the interviewer what you can contribute to their company. It is important to prove to them that you can add value and be part of their winning team.
You can show off what makes you different from the other people applying for the same job as you and explain how you would be an asset to the company, helping them accomplish goals using your experience and qualifications.
A great way to do this is by giving examples of how you excelled at tasks in the past and the positive results or outcomes of your actions.
iv) Ask yourself, do the company’s expectations align with what you want?
If your expectations and that of your prospective employer for the roles do not align then it means you may be a less than perfect fit for each other.
If you don’t have similar interests, you could find yourself feeling stuck in a role you don’t like and not delivering on your tasks.
Your employer will wind up being dissatisfied with your performance which could result in termination of employment, landing you back where you started, sending out hundreds of applications every day.
v) Be mindful of how you are treated during the interview
A major thing to take note of is how you are treated during an interview.
Some hiring managers or interviewers tend to be gruff and stiff, this may be their way of communicating professionalism but you should not feel uncomfortable, bullied or put under undue pressure during your interview.
It says a lot about the company culture and is a sign of a potentially unhealthy work environment if the hiring manager is rude or unpleasant.
vi) Does the interview appear prepared?
If the interview seems unplanned or the person(s) asking you questions are flustered, do not have a cohesive set of questions or seem unprepared to receive you, then that’s a red flag you should not ignore.
It may be a one-off but it is a sign of zero coordination in the whole team which could mean working in a perpetually disorganized organization.
Interview your potential employer
After sending in your application, the hiring manager will typically respond to either confirm an interview or reject your application (hopefully not!).
At this stage, you can already tell what the chain of communication in the company would look like if you eventually get hired.
Having an open line of communication in every company is very important as it helps new hires get acclimated with the company goals easily.
When there is hardly any communication between employees and management, it leads to confusion, frustration and avoidable difficulties in completing your tasks.
Working with a company that encourages good communication should be something every potential hire should want. Here are a few things to look out for regarding communication.
1) Are they timely?
Observe if communication occurs in a timely manner as you go back and forth with the hiring manager.
Whether it is to schedule an in-person meeting or pass on vital information about the hiring process, take note of whether or not they respond to your emails on time.
Did the hiring manager show up late for the interview? This could be an indicator that they do not respect your time and could possibly mean that they are now great at managing time.
This lets you know how seriously the employer takes the hiring process and how timely they are with company correspondence.
ii) Are they professional?
While the company may be embracing the new wave of being less formal and more friendly while communicating, it’s also important that they maintain an air of professionalism.
If you get a semi-formal and chatty email from someone from the company, it might help you feel more comfortable and less nervous when you finally meet for the interview however it should not be inappropriate or make you feel uncomfortable.
Their method of communication will continue throughout your stay at the company and you need to decide if you are okay with being spoken to that way for years.
iii) How are they managing your interview experience?
Starting from the moment you get a response to your application, how has the company managed your interview experience?
iv) Does it seem well thought out, planned and cohesive?
If it isn’t then you probably wouldn’t enjoy working for such an organization. It is an indicator that the company probably does things on the fly without proper planning and so even your role could be unclear, making the work environment a stressful, disorganized and unpleasant place to be.
During your walk-in interview, was it made clear who you would be meeting?
Was there someone to greet and show you to the interview room?
Also, pay attention to the kind of questions they ask during your interview, do they repeat questions?
Each stage of your interview should have a clear purpose and if it feels like you are being bounced around randomly then you may want to decline an offer to work with such a company.
Questions to ask a company in an interview
Usually, after the interviewer is done asking you questions, they will also give you the opportunity to ask them a few questions.
At this point, many people would’ve overcome their initial nervousness and gotten an idea of what the role is all about.
You may be tempted to skip this stage but asking questions shows you have done your research and have been actively following all they have been talking about.
1) What are the core values of the company?
Finding out the company’s values lets you know if their goals are things you can help them achieve.
If you have no interest in the core values of a company or if they go against your personal beliefs and values, working with them might have you conflicted with zero job satisfaction.
It also shows the interview you care about more than getting a paycheck.
2) What do the day-to-day responsibilities look like in this role?
While the responsibilities of the position may have been outlined right from the job posting, it’s also worthwhile to ask about the day to day responsibilities so you can tell exactly what you will be doing every day.
This is also the interviewer’s opportunity to let you know of any additional responsibilities you may be charged with. It’s important to have clarity on what exactly it is you will be doing to avoid surprises when you are given a task.
3) What are the most valued skills for this position?
This is your opportunity to learn the skills that the organization desires and how they reward you for having such skills.
Having already listed your skills earlier in the interview, if the interview affirms that they value such skills, you can be sure the job is the right fit for you.
If you fall short in some areas, you can take steps to improve and brush up on your skills and if you do not have any of the skills at all, then the job may not be the best fit for you.
4) What does success look like in this role?
Asking this question can help you set your own goals and develop a method of how to meet the expectations of the organization.
You’ll get some helpful insight into the job and get some valuable answers from the interviewer on the job as well.
The answers they give can help you learn if your skills match the requirements to be successful in the role.
Having all of these questions ready and being adequately prepared for your interview will help you become more confident in knowing whether your prospective employer is a great fit for you.
Getting the right answers will also guarantee that you have an enjoyable time as an employee with complete job satisfaction.