Submitted by JasonK on
BLUF: How can we, the candidates, know the real-truth about the company and which questions to ask?
A potential new job is a two-way street. The company wants the best person to fulfill the role and we want to be in the company that suits a variety of parameters that are important for us.
There are endless amount of resources that help recruiters ask the correct questions and filter out the mismatches. Of course, candidates often prettify the truth about themselves, however, there are many resources that help recruiters minimize the false recruits.
On the other hand, there are many questions that are important for me. For example:
- Are you (my boss) a micro-manager? Do you empower/praise your directs? Will you expect me to be available on weekends and after work hours? etc...many things about the boss and company culture.
Many bosses/HR representatives will not answer this directly and honestly. Furthermore, I do not always know what to ask in the first place.
It is very unfortunate to land a job and after several months understand it was totally not what you expected and was presented in the first place and then start looking for another job.
My Question is: Are there resources that teach which questions to ask? What are the important things I should pay attention to? what should raise a red flag?...etc?
Is there a book/podcasts on how to interview the future company/boss?
Look for little things
Overall it is best to be very subtle about this.
I don't know of any particular resources other than MT.
They do have guidance about this in podcasts and the general take-away is not to be obvious about this or you will come off as arrogant.
I would look for small things like professionalism in the process as an indication.
How are the interviews run ?
If you get an onsite interview, chat with as many people as possible. Ask for a general tour of the facility. Don't ask "Can I see my desk ?" But, show curiosity about the place in general.
Take note of how other people around are acting and interacting. Especially when you are introduced.
I was at an interview once, and was shown my future staff office and a small closet with my future desk in it.
When I came in, the staff looked up and barely smiled at their possible future boss. The decor was very drab and they all seemed very unhappy.
I was shown around by the oldest and longest staff member, and I peppered in some questions about previous directors and the history of the place.
She really dished out some negative stuff.
The formal interview Q & A went OK
--- No, I did _not_ take this job.
Feel free to PM - me for specific Red Flags that I have seen.
There is a cast for that
Personally, I do not 100% agree with MT on this Topic.
I do believe that Interviews are a 2 way street, and that often an on-site interview is really the only time you will have to get much of the information you need. Other than asking your network that may already be working there.
If you wait until after an offer, you can't ask to come back and visit and meet other people. The Loop has been closed.
I do believe that MT's guidence is excellent on this topic, because if a candidate does not do this right they will seem arrogant.
So --- tred carefully.
Interviews are Not a Two-Way Street
Questions Not To Ask In An Interview - Chapter 1 - Benefits
Questions Not To Ask In An Interview - Chapter 2 - Working Conditions
* Sign up for an MT license and get the Interviewing Series
What to DO
Thank you for your valuable answers. I listened now to all the podcasts you have advised.
Just like for other topics (e.g. CV) MT explain not only what NOT to do but also what SHOULD we do (i.e. to continue with the CV example - write in our resume and how should it look like).
Same here - I am interested to know what SHOULD I do (e.g. ask the more delicate questions only after you got an offer).
Personal and Subtle
I totally get what you are asking.
And I totally share your feeling.
I think that MT guidance on this point is a bit lacking.
I think that is for some good reasons :
1 - The things that are important to people's working conditions can be so personal or specific to an industry that it would be difficult to provide general guidance.
2 - MT doesn't want you, as a candidate, to waste time or energy or relationship building on these kinds of questions during an interview.
3 - The questions would also depend on who you get to interview with. Just the hiring manager ? Just senior level folks ? Do you get to interview with a potential peer ? Potential directs ? MT doesn't know that part for you.
Like I said before, there are so many things that you can't go back and find out after an offer.
You can't ask to talk to each of the people you interviewed with again.
You can't ask to come for a 2nd on-site tour.
Your only point of contact at that point is the hiring manager and they will always try to paint a rosy picture.
I could yammer on about all of the little things I look for.
I could give advice about the kinds of subtle conversational questions I ask to get the picture.
* I have no data to indicate if my methods would work for you or anybody else.
I've talked to janitors.
I've gotten to the site early and went to hang out with the folks that are outside for a smoking break.
-- "Hi I'm here for an interview. Just wanted to get some air before I go in. Which department do work in ? How long ? What's it like around here ? What have been the ups and downs around here since you started ? I could really use some coffee. Do you have a department coffee nook or a vending machine ? It’s really nice meeting you. ---
I have found that often the smokers tend to be straight talkers and you might get dish from them. But, remember it is just their opinion, and they may be disgruntled unhappy people from an unrelated department. Take what they say with a grain of salt.
Talk with everyone you see, front desk person, the guy at the vending machine. Tell them who you are why you are there.
Be friendly and interesedin them. Start building relationships right then.
Watch their faces. Ask them about their department and their work.
Are they happy ? Helpful ? Stand-offish ? Do they turn around looking scared over their shoulder to see if the boss is watching ?
Go ahead and Private Message me - if you wish.