By Caroline M.L. Potter
Researching a company can tell you only so much about how your experience would be if you made the transition from candidate to employee. But there are things you can do during the interview process that will help you determine if the opportunity is truly right for you.
Career expert Deborah Brown-Volkman discusses six questions all job seekers should ask themselves when pursuing a position.
1. Who's the Boss?
If you're in contention for a job, you'll meet your future supervisor at some point. Pay close attention to how well you get along with this individual, as he will hold the key to your success -- and happiness -- in that position. Says Brown-Volkman, "If you notice on the interview that your boss does not get you or you do not get him or her, this will not change once you start working there."
2. Do You Click or Clash with Future Coworkers?
Some people hate their jobs but love their colleagues so much that it overrides any unhappiness they have about their daily duties. However, just as these folks can make your work life great, they can also make it miserable. Ask to meet your potential teammates before accepting an offer. Brown-Volkman says, "If you sense there is a problem with someone you will be working with, listen to what your inner voice is telling you." First impressions are often correct impressions when it comes to future coworkers.
3. Who Are You Trying to Convince?
"Wanting to be selected by an employer sometimes makes us talk ourselves into a situation we might not have taken if we were thinking more clearly," says Brown-Volkman. But as much as employers are trying to determine if you're a fit, you should be trying to determine if the organization is a fit for you. Forget your ego, and focus on why, and how much, you really want any job.
4. What Matters Most to You?
Just like people, every company is different. What is permissible at one may be verboten at another. Before you get too deep into the interview process, understand your priorities. Do you require flexibility with your hours? The opportunity to work autonomously? The ability to telecommute from time to time? Know it and own it during a company courtship. "Deciding what you want ahead of time will give you the opportunity to ask questions to assess whether you really want the job," she states.
5. Is This Job Just Right, or Right Just for Now?
Your personal finances may dictate that you have to accept something less than your dream job. "I work with many clients who agreed to less-than-perfect positions believing they would stay for just one year," Brown-Volkman says. "But that one year frequently became two, and then more, even though the jobs were not satisfying." If you're taking a job just for now, plan your exit strategy. "An interim position is just that," she says. "Don't sell out for the long haul."
6. Who Are You Fooling?
Don't put on airs or make promises you can't keep when going after a job. Ultimately, you and your career will pay the price. "You may fool the people with whom you interview to get the job, but you will only be fooling yourself once you get there and you have to be someone else," Brown-Volkman says.