What To Research Before Accepting A Job Offer?
I remember once I left a job, one that I loved, to join another company. This company offered more money, provided me with more career opportunities, but for the 5 years I was there I was never happy.
Leah Lambart, our career professional from Relaunch Me has written an important article, because when you go for a job, it is important to think about your needs as much as the employer to find a perfect match.
It is important to do your research before accepting a job offer to ensure that:
1) The role and work environment are a good fit for your personality
2) That the values of the organisation align with your own; and
3) That the role is going to be a step towards meeting your career objectives
It is important for a candidate to do their research and to remember that the job interview is an opportunity for them to ‘assess’ the company, not just the other way around. By going into the interview with this mindset, it can sometimes also calm your nerves.
The interview is a clear opportunity to ask questions about the organisation and the role to reveal some key things to help you make an informed decision. I would recommend that candidates ask key questions to determine the following:
1. Culture of the organisation - do they practice what they preach
2. Work environment – will it suit my personality
3. Values of the agency – do they live the values or just aspire to do so (there is a big difference)
4. How performance is measured - is there a formal performance management process and what skills do they value
5. Management style of the person you will be reporting into
7. Opportunities for growth and career progression – opportunities to develop your career within the organisation
Key interview questions that will help you make this assessment include the following:
“Can you describe the culture of the organisation?” seems a pretty obvious question to assess how they view the culture of the organisation. However, if you are attending multiple interviews with the same organisation you can ask this question of everyone you meet and see if you get a similar response. If the interviewer described the culture as ‘flexible’ or ‘innovative’ I would ask for some concrete examples to see if they practice what they preach.
Another great question to ask is “What do you like most about working here?” If the interviewer struggles to find something nice to say about the place then I would run a mile. Again, I would ask this question of everyone I meet during the recruitment process to see if there answers are consistent.
I also think it is really important to understand why the role has become vacant – ie is it a newly created role (suggests they are happy to create new roles rather than overloading current employees) or is it replacing someone (ie. I would want to know why they left and how long the were in the role). I think it is fair to ask at interview “Why has the position become available?” and if it is a replacement role “How long was the previous incumbent in the role and why did they leave?” If the role has had a high turnover then I would be doing some additional research.
You could also ask a question such as “How would you describe your management style?” if you are meeting with your potential new manager. Managers can have very different management styles and this can potentially make or break you in a new role.
Work environment is also really important in regards to determining whether you are happy at work. For a strong introvert, working in an open-plan, noisy office where they are interrupted all day could turn out to be a nightmare. Likewise, an extrovert stuck in the corner office on her own with no face-to-face contact might also be miserable. Other work environment factors to consider include whether the organisation is process driven versus innovative, structured versus unstructured, task-focused or relationship-focused. I strongly recommend that candidates request the opportunity to have a short office tour and the opportunity to meet other team members if they get towards the pointy end of the recruitment process. A quick tour of the office will give you a good idea of whether it might be the right environment for you.
Networking / Research
I would also recommend doing some external research outside of the organisation. By using a business networking tool (LinkedIn), you could search for current employees or past employees of that particular organisation by doing a keyword search. If they are in your immediate network I wouldn’t hesitate to call them and ask them some questions about the company. I would also approach 2nd degree connections even if you don’t know them to see if they would be willing to share their knowledge of the organisation.
I would also use a business networking tool to identify current employees and then look at their profiles to get an idea of their career progression within the company. If employees tend to stay in the same role for an extended period of time then I would be questioning whether there wil be opportunities to move internally. Likewise, by looking at the profile of previous employees you might notice that many don’t stay for a very long time. This could raise another red flag. I would even recommend contacting current and past employees to see if they would be happy to share information about their time with the organisation.
You can also access the Glassdoor website to access company reviews, ratings and other company information.
You also need to ensure that you have a good understanding of the market rate for such a role before you go to the interview. You should be able to get a good idea of the expected range by accessing information from others in your field of work, or accessing salary information on Payscale or a recruitment agency salary survey such as the Hays Salary Guide.
Example of where it all went wrong
I recently worked with a client who was suffering from burnout after working 70-80 hr weeks on a long-term basis. Her health was declining so she made a decision to resign and look for another job. In her haste to find another role, she commenced a role with a new organisation with the understanding that the work/life balance would be much better, that she would be entitled to leave in lieu for any excessive overtime.
Three months into the role it quickly became apparent that the hours were just as excessive (if not worse) and that employees were pressured into not taking leave in lieu and were bullied if they did. She also soon discovered that there had been an incredibly high turnover in the organisation due to the unethical behaviour of the leadership team.
Had this she taken the time to ask more questions and research the group more thoroughly (i.e., approaching past employees for their advice and comments) she soon would have discovered that it wasn’t going to be anything like what she was led to believe in the interview. It pays to do your research as an unsuccessful job move is not only inconvenient and stressful but also can be a red flag on your resume to future employers.
Written by Leah Lambart from Relaunch Me.
Read more of Leah's fantastic articles in the career section of Cazinc Blog.
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