At this point the company has already determined
that they need someone
to fill some type of as position, but should that person be you? This
decision not only belongs to the company, but also to each candidate
offered the position. Just because the company makes you an offer does
not mean that the job is good for you. Remember the company is looking
for someone good for it. So while you are being interviewed, be an
interviewer and decide if the job is right for you.
When entering a company's lobby, especially a one
company or a corporate (the term is used loosely when discussing small
companies) headquarters, look at what is on the walls. Many companies
will have favorable newspaper or magazine publications decorating their
lobbies. Many service companies in an effort to impress potential
customers may have employee credentials and/or thank you notes from
satisfied customers everywhere that one can turn. Any type of awards
won by the company may also be prominently displayed.
Also displayed in
the lobby may be plaques or other such items showing the company's
commitment to the community. Read to see who was really behind such an
accomplishment, as to see what your role may become. If the award was
given to the company, you may never feel any pressure to participate in
such extra activities. Awards given to the "employees of..." the
company may indicate that extra efforts may be required of "team"
players. (Read as extra work, not for the company so there is no pay)
When looking at certificates of accomplishment such
as diplomas, of
specialized training, licenses, etc... keep in mind that no company can
posses any type knowledge. Only people, the employees, can possess
knowledge. If the person whose name is on the certificate is no
with the company, the certificate should come down. Leaving the
certificate up is a way of falsifying the company's capabilities. If a
company does not take down such certificates when the named employee
leaves, then you should not stay. Also when looking at the
certificates, look at the dates. Are the dates reasonably recent or are
they relatively old? Active companies (especially in rapidly advancing
fields such as technology and medicine) should have relatively newer
certificate. Remember the company is looking to fill the lobby, so they
can impress people. Companies looking to deceive people will try to
keep a person in the lobby long enough to see the certificates, but
will make an effort to get you out before you're able to start reading
Nicer companies will have other materials to keep
you busy in the
lobby, such as magazines. As an applicant, many companies will
immediately hand you an application, even if they have a copy of your
resume. Don't just sit there in the lobby and start filling it out -
take the time to do some quick research. You can either finish filling
it out after the interview or the company may not care if you've
Location Of the Interview
Once beyond the lobby larger companies may
have a set location for first interviews, like the personnel officer's
office or conference room. Smaller companies may conduct the first
interview in the first quiet space found. For the first interview that
is OK, but unacceptable for a second interview.
The second interview
should introduce you to the position's work environment. Where are you
going to work?
should be answered by your second interview by your observations, not
by someone giving you their opinion.
- A nice air-conditioned area or a back room sweat shop?
well equipped lab or some condemned hole in the wall?
The Initial Interviewer
Larger companies may have you talk to a person
who is somewhat clueless as to the questions they ask and the answers
you give. The more clueless they are, the more effort they will make to
write every word you say. If such is happening, take a moment to
explain the answers in simpler terms, so that they may understand and
possibly paraphrase the answer themselves. If the clueless interviewer
is interested in learning more, take the time to talk to (not at) the
interviewer, making sure that you get your point across. This will make
them feel that you are a team player. For people interviewing for a
computer position, the personnel person may be looking for someone to
work with him or her on his or her system. Remember the purpose of a
personnel department is to work with people or handle employees. The
difference between working with people and handling employees is their
attitude towards you - the employee.
The Interview's Time
The more interested a company is in hiring you,
the more flexible the company's interview schedule becomes. Companies
looking to hire people who have solid work experience realize that such
individuals are most likely to be found working at other companies
rather than the unemployment line. First interviews are usually done
like piece work, as there are usually at least a dozen to be done.
Smaller companies may be more accommodating as a hiring manager may
stay late or come in early. Larger companies may have one of their
interviewers work irregular hours as to accommodate working applicants.
In cases where distance is a major factor, the first interview may be
done over the phone or other inexpensive alternative means. Second
interviews are much rarer as the search is narrowed to 3 to 5
applicants. Thus the company should be much more flexible as they are
now more interested in you. At the second interview you should be
talking to the hiring manager and someone who knows what you are
talking about. In a large company that will most likely be the hiring
manager or supervisor, while small companies may bring someone who they
feel is qualified to interview you. At the second interview you may end
up talking to many different people, who may become your coworkers if
there is a mutual interest, as the hiring manager is looking for many
A tour of your future environment is very important, and by
your observations you should be able to answer a few questions. Don't
let someone else answer these questions for you.
Though these items may seem trivial now,
but in time these items will make your cubical or office feel either
like a jail cell or a second home.
- Will the proposed work
environment aggravate your allergies?
- How's the temperature right now?
- Do they allow for personal electric space heaters or fans for
- Do you like having windows, or is that something that you do
not care about?
- Does the company allow for other personal touches like
radios or family pictures?
- Is everything too open or is everything too
- Is the lighting OK, or will it give you headaches? Many people
have problems with fluorescent lights and CRT's. If you are one such
person, will the company allow you to do something as to make the
lighting better for yourself?
At an interview, you may not be the only one putting on a
smiley face. You may sell yourself as having just a bit more experience
or knowledge than you feel you really do as to entice the company into
making you an offer. Could not the same be said the other way around?
Is the boss overstating some of the benefits and/or understating (if
stating at all) some of the disadvantages of the job? Remember, the
company most likely needs someone to fill a position just as much as
you need a job, so you might not be the only less than 100% honest
person in the room.
An interview to your advantage will allow you to
meet with your boss before meeting your coworkers. Ask the boss about
topics that you are concerned with, for example the position's hours.
The boss may state that the company offers flex time, but how flexible
is your boss to be? The boss may state that there may be a few early
morning meetings or a few late nights may be required as to meet a
deadline, making flextime look more like "stretch time".
with the boss, ask the same questions to the coworkers and see how much
the answers match or not. If the answers sound too exactly alike, the
coworkers may have been coached on what to say. If they are too
different, then the boss is either a liar or a workaholic. The answers
you will be getting from both the boss and coworkers may be opinions.
What a coworker feels is late, may not be so to the boss. Few to a boss
may be many to a coworker. If you can, get numbers, so you can form
your own opinion based on what you are looking for in a job. If you can
not get numbers, then go with the opinions of the coworkers as you are
investigating weather you should become one of them or not.
yourself if the boss is the type of person that you can deal with for a
major part of the day? Though you do not have to like each other, there
should be enough respect between you and your superiors and/or
subordinates as to make the workday pleasant and productive for
What tour is complete without meeting some of the natives?
Depending on the situation, your coworkers may be a bigger factor than
the boss. When being interviewed by the natives or by the boss in front
of the natives, watch for attitude! When a debate emerges over an idea,
are they looking for fresh blood or fresh meat? People looking for
fresh blood will want to know how that idea and you may benefit the
company. Natives looking for fresh meat will try to make themselves
look good at your expense; animals protecting their own territory. Even
if the boss likes you, these people may influence (read as back stab)
the boss's perception of you in time (read as set you up).
the interview, but more often on the first day, political parties will
try to recruit you. Jokes, comments or insults about other people will
be tossed as coworkers check you out. Snicker to show you have a sense
of humor, but keep any opinions to yourself. If asked if you agree,
downplay any opinions you might have by stating ignorance; most people
will back down. "I dunno - I am new here" usually works well and you
may get a response that goes like "I've been here four years and I
still don't know..." or "Get used to it…"
Another important thing to
look for at an interview is a mentor. Even if you are going in at a
senior level, it's nice to have someone show you the ropes rather than
watch you get hung by the ropes. It's even better if your boss can be
your mentor, as the advice he or she gives will not conflict with what
you are told to do. When looking for a mentor, find someone that people
respect. Keep in mind that many people who are respected are not always
the most loved, but it's up to you to determine weather respect or
popularity is more important.
At most interviews, the candidate will rarely ever meet one
of the most important groups of people connected with the company - the
customer(s). Depending on what the company does and your position in
the company determines how much of a role the customer will play in
your business day. Feel free to ask about the company's customer base
and what amount of customer contact your position requires. Unless you
are applying for a job as a counterfeiter or the government, all your
company's revenues come from customers who have the ability to take
their money and business elsewhere.
Try to see what your boss's
attitude is about the company's customer contacts. Sure it's nice to
know about the companies that is your customers, but you are going to
be dealing with individuals within those companies. Some of your
contacts are going to be peons, people in the same position or lower
than you. Other contacts may be the people that make the decision on
weather to keep your company as a vendor or client.
Ask about the
contacts, and not only note the answers, but note the attitude. Bosses
who feel that the customer is always right may offer you as the
sacrificial lamb when (not if - when) there is a conflict. Any honest
person with half a brain will tell you that dealing with a customer is
not easy. A good manager will tell you how certain individuals have
been dealt with successfully, how a few customers were lost and how
others were won. If your boss describes how he handled a situation,
note his role and behavior.
A good manager will realize that some customers' money is just
not as green as some other customer's money. The manager will note that
some customers are very rarely heard from, while some do have ligament
problems with a product or service. Ask how such issues were handled,
noting the customer's attitude and how the involved employees were
treated. A honest manager looking out for the welfare of both the
company and its employees will also give some detail about the problem
customers. Problem customer's money is just not as green or can even be
red, costing the company profit margins or actual revenue. Customers
who don't pay their bill hurt the company (Duh!). Other customers will
try to squeeze $1.05 worth of product and service from the company for
every $1.00 they pay. Ask about if there are any policies in place
about such customers as such a situation can get you in trouble with
both the customer and your boss. The cheap customer will complain about
value while your boss will be upset about the expense as time is money
in any business.
- If he personally took care of the
situation, try to see how much he apologized and B.S.ed the customer.
- No apologies may indicate a person who makes a habit out of
he'll lie to a customer, who else is he going to lie to?
- No B.S.ing may
indicate that he may have made someone within the company be the
sacrificial lamb. Sure he'll stand behind you - like about 10 feet.
he managed the situation, then observed how intensely he managed the
- Did he tell the people exactly what to say? (Read as
- Or did he have everyone fix the problem while he
dealt with the customer?
- Or did he just tell everyone about the problem
washing his hands of the whole issue?
When dealing with customers, do not look at a set of
rules as being something to confine you, but rather protect you. Many
customers will put more pressure on you - the new guy, the person who
may give in first as to avoid conflict with a customer. Again, you will
very rarely ever meet a customer on an interview, but depending on your
position, they may be the most important people to learn about. Ask the
boss and the coworkers about the customers, noting attitudes. Remember,
your company's customers and vendors may be good companies, but you are
going to be dealing with individuals within those companies, so try to
keep the focus on the company's relations with the contacts.
Although there is more detail about
pre-employment agreements in another chapter, this issue should be
brought up by the second interview. During the interview you should ask
for a complete copy of the pre-employment agreement to take with you
for your inspection. While at the interview, take some time skim the
agreement and ask questions about any points that you do not feel
completely comfortable with. Not only do you want to clear up such
points, but try to find out why such points are in the agreement.
have stated throughout this chapter, you should be interviewing your
boss and the company while you are being interviewed. Before getting
into the detail of the agreement, you should find out why certain items
are in the agreement. Take the time to ask about issues that may not
affect you, just to see what type of boss this person will be and what
type of company you are thinking of working for.
On issues that affect
you, press for a specific answer. Everything in a company is done for a
reason; mostly for a better bottom line. For example, a company
prohibits employees from wearing personal pagers on company time. Ask
why. An answer such as "I had problems in the past with employees who
had personnel pagers..." is a good start to an answer, the boss to be
realizes that company policy must change every so often. Now ask why,
and you will see the type of person who is interviewing you.
If they do
not answer that question, then be prepared to be controlled from the
minute you walk into their door until the minute they let you leave
their door - provided you are not on call in which case until you quit.
The same holds true if the answer goes like "we had employees who took
5 minutes to answer each page 20 times a day". Sounds like a good
reason, but why should you have to give up your privilege? "I prefer to
have all calls go through the secretary...", should sound a major
warning bell. At this point you may have to negotiate some of the terms
of the pre-employment agreement, and get that revised copy! If you are
a on call fireman (volunteer or something as such), auxiliary cop,
paramedic, etc... state such, and you should be exempted from the rule.
THAT EXEMPTIN IN WRITING! If the boss still persists in routing
such calls through the secretary, ask him if he'd hold his breath for 2
minutes, the time a busy secretary may leave an important call on hold.
We are talking about life and death here. If you have your own "little
side business", then forget bringing in your pager - people like you
are why such a policy developed.
In short, what kind of taste did the interview leave in
your mouth? At this point your head is spinning and you are being asked
to make a major decision about that which influences your life. Note
your immediate impressions, think later. When you do think, think about
every impression that you had - do not dismiss any impression no matter
how unreasonable it may seem. Keep in mind that at the interview you
did not have time to think, so feelings and instinct is what got you
through. Think about:
job that you are clearly not qualified for will work towards your
disadvantage most of the time. Some skills can be easily acquired and
practiced, while others skills may require permits or licenses. When
making your decision, balance all aspects of you, the job and your
coworkers and the relationships between all elements. Again - it's up
to you weather you decide or you let someone else decide for you.
- What you said and why - were you trying to impress someone,
something up, what did you have to justify or explain
- What did you NOT say and why - who were you afraid of
were you afraid of being questioned
- How did each person make you feel? a. What role will each
play in your day?
- Do any of these people remind you of other people and how do
feel about that type of person? (Can you work with a fleabag, bleeding
heart or stick in the mud)
- Did the people who interviewed you seem intelligent or stupid?
- Is the company looking to hire the real you, or will you have
become that someone else? (through training, classes, etc...)