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What an Interview Can Teach You about a Company

- October 18, 2013

Your interview will give you a chance to showcase your skills to potential employers—there’s no doubt about this—but the value of the interview doesn’t end there.

Of course you’d like this meeting to result in an offer, but once you have that offer in hand, you’ll need to know something about the company in order to make an informed decision. And since the interviewer may not be forthcoming about some of the negative aspects of this job, you’ll have to read between the lines during your interview to make sure this position can provide what you need.

Here are a few of the subtle cues you’ll need to notice and interpret on your own:

1. Look around. As you enter the building, pay attention to this workplace, both inside and out. Did you have any difficulty getting here or finding a place to park? Is the building clean, well lit, and well maintained? If not, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a third of your waking life here, at a minimum.

2. Observe the people who work here. Are they burned out drones who don’t respond to your smile? Or are they relaxed, happy, and pleased with each other’s company? Is the pace productive and busy, wild, and frantic, or laid back? You’ll be one of these people soon. Whatever shapes their attitudes and demeanor will soon shape yours as well.

3. When your interviewer greets you, look for signs of respect and interest. If she seems annoyed and impatient, this might indicate how she feels about this position. But if she looks you over carefully and greets you with warmth and enthusiasm, it may mean the position is important to the success of the company. It may also mean you’ll be working closely with this person on a daily basis.

4. Tune in to demeaning questions. If you’re asked which zoo animal you would be and why, or which five foods you would take to a desert island, determine what these questions suggest about the position, the company, or your future relationship with the person asking them.

5. Listen for signs that the position might require more time than you can invest, or might come with few opportunities for advancement. A manager may suggest some of these things indirectly.

6. Questions about the ethics and the daily challenges of the position will also be couched in indirect terms. Your interviewer may make a vague statement about the job followed by a question like: “Will you be okay with that?” If this happens, think carefully before you answer, and remember this cue later while you’re considering the offer.

7. Take bullying, arrogance, or baiting seriously. An interviewer who cross examines you as if you’re on trial is a clear warning sign.  So is an interview process that continues for more than three rounds. So are suggestions that you’re misrepresenting yourself or trying to get away with something. Excessive background checks that include your social media profiles, your medical history, and your credit history are also red flags (unless these resources relate directly to the job).

8. Positive signs may also be non-verbal and indirect. If your interviewer seems engaged and friendly, seems excited to meet you, and seems to respect this organization and love her job, these are all signs that this company will take an interest in your success and support the growth of your long-term career.

A Great Interview Starts With a Great Resume

Before you consider the pros and cons of accepting an offer, you’ll have to land the interview in the first place. And in order to receive an interview invitation, you’ll need to start with a strong, clear resume that reveals exactly who you are, what you can do, and what you’re looking for. Visit MyPerfectResume and take the first step toward the position that’s right for you.

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