BY ANTHONY MASTERTON
Job interviews are very stressful. It feels like the people interviewing you have a tremendous amount of power and you have none. But have you ever heard the saying, “You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you?” There’s some truth to that. Sure, there’s no use pretending that they’re not more in control of the situation than you are, but remember that you have plenty to offer as well. They want you to be a good fit for the job, and you want them to be a good fit for you. It’s a mutual evaluation process, and to that end, you should be thinking of more than just “Do they like me?”
Do the workers seem happy?
Ideally, everyone you meet in the office will be enthusiastic and eager to tell you all about why working at Company Y is so great. Realistically, most people will be too busy with their work to do anything except introduce themselves and say hi when your potential boss is showing you around the office. Still, there are some important clues in the work environment. Do people seem focused and driven, or just depressed? Are people using landlines, company-issued cell phones, or both? Are there a lot of empty cubicles? The latter could be a sign that the company has been through several rounds of layoffs and cutbacks in the last few years, or maybe just a sign that there’s a high turnover. Speaking of turnover, if you get the chance, ask your interviewer how long they’ve worked there. It’s great if they’ve worked there ten years and plan to retire there, but it’s not necessarily bad if they’ve only been there a few months. However, it is bad if no one in the company has worked there more than a couple of years.
Where will the company be in five years?
It’s very common for an interviewer to ask, “So, where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s tempting to reply with something snarky like “Not homeless,” but resist the urge. They’re looking to find out more about your goals and how the company might or might not fit with those goals. It’s also fair to ask the same thing of the company: What’s their growth outlook? Is the industry doing well or doing poorly? It’s easy to know that some industries are doing poorly (like newspapers) while others are booming (like software), but there’s still a wide amount of variance from company to company. The answer you get is important, but so is how the interviewer says it. If they pause and look uncomfortable, or even get angry at you for asking, that’s not great. As long as you phrase the question politely, they should at least try to give you an answer.
Are the benefits generous or stingy?
Plenty of people ask about pay at a job interview, but not as many candidates think to mention benefits. Things like health insurance are pretty standard, but if there’s time, feel free to dig a little deeper. Does the company offer life insurance to its employees, or will you have to buy your own through a place like OurLifeCovered? What is the company’s parental leave policy? Is there a 401k, and if so, does the company match? An organization that cares about its employees should be able to offer more than just the most basic benefits. Sometimes a lower-than-expected salary can be offset somewhat by a generous package of benefits. If the pay is low and the benefits are terrible, maybe you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Anthony Masterton is a young entrepreneur trying to break through in the Tech world. When he’s not working on growing his young startup, he writes about everything from tech advancements to his own experiences as a young CEO. A self starter, he likes to help others learn from his own successes and failures, as it’s always easiest to learn from experience.