So I’m going to continue my theme from last week and cover more ground about how you should go about interviewing your future boss & company.
There’s nothing that makes us sadder here at TheLadders than an (unnecessary) repeat customer — the folks who discover that their dream job is a bad dream, the kind you need to wake up from right away — so we want you to make sure it’s a good match before accepting.
Last week I shared with you the twenty questions to ask your interviewers to learn more about the job and the opportunity.
Well, there’s more to understanding an opportunity than what people say, of course.
You also need to do a “Visual Interview” of your prospective employer’s office environment. Now, this little bit of recon doesn’t mean you should connect with your inner James Bond and pull a snoop worthy of Skyfall. But it does mean that you should observe and assess the office layout, kitchens, bathrooms and meeting rooms. Or, as I like to call them:
Seats, sips, “powder”, and pow-wows.
The reason this is important is that your physical environment has a great impact on your productivity and happiness. And how much your future employer values, or devalues, these areas, is oftentimes a good predictor of how they feel about their employees in general, and thereby, you.
What is the office layout? How are desks arranged? How much space, light, and quiet is each employee given?
Importantly: how does that work with your style?
I’m flummoxed at the number of times people overlook this.
For instance, here at TheLadders, we’re an open floor plan — everybody, CEO to college intern, has the same cheap desk from IKEA, an Aeron chair, two, three, or more, monitors, and sits out in the open. We like it that way and it promotes the open, collaborative environment that we think is important for our success.
We had one senior person, who’d come to our office multiple times for multiple interviews, show up on the first day asking “Where’s my office?” And it turned out that open seating was deeply dissatisfying to him and helped shorten his tenure here.
Take notice: how comfortable you are with the seating arrangements, and the environment around your workspace, is important to your future success.
When they ask if you’d like a coffee or water, say “sure, but I don’t want to make you carry it — I’ll come with you.” And check out the kitchen / pantry / snack room / break room.
Is it messy? Teeny-tiny? Are they scrimping on the Sweet ‘N’ Low and stingy with the stirrers?
Or is it a Google-esque cornucopia of Cheetos, siggi’s, and starfruit?
Napoleon quipped that “an army marches on its stomach.” Does your future employer agree?
I’ve been watching too much 40′s and 50′s period drama on TV recently. (Got into “Foyle’s War” from the UK on my Netflix — brilliant!) So I’ll use that old euphemism “powder room” for the john.
One investor claims that a trip to the bathroom is the best way to figure out how a company feels about its employees.
Investments in fixing the “powder room” are always discretionary. So how discretionary is employee happiness, when nature calls, in the mind of your prospective employer?
Is it dingy, dim-lit, dungeon-like and depressing? Have the walls been painted since… the 50s?
Or is it clean, well-stocked and well-maintained?
Where does this employee priority fit into management’s priorities?
You’ll likely walk past a number of conference and meeting rooms during your visit to a company’s offices. What do those rooms tell you about working at the company?
Are there schedules on the doors? Are those schedules completely filled back-to-back? Or is most work done by individuals at their desks?
Are the conference rooms packed? Are more people in them or out of them?
Do the meeting rooms seem to be places to get work done? Are they filled with whiteboards and creativity?
Or is there one lonely lightbulb swaying in the emptiness?
How much and how well you’ll be expected to work with others is important for you to know.
All of these cues and clues can help give you a fuller picture of life at the new company.
You can read too much into them, and no one place is a nirvana constructed solely for your advantage. But it does behoove you to ensure that your new environment is acceptable to you and will enable you to perform your best.
So on your interviews, in addition to asking, make sure you take some time for looking and doing the visual interview.
I’ll be rooting for you!