A common question that I get asked during career coaching sessions is, How do I know if this is the right company to work for? The scenario is the following: You have been through the interview process, you meet the hiring manager and an HR associate, everything goes well, and they make you a job offer with a salary package that’s in your ballpark. So how do you know if this is the right company to work for? You start racking your brain and begin searching for clues as to whether is the right company for you.
Quite often, as an interviewee, the only clues you have about a company are: its brand name and corporate reputation; the way HR has treated you during the interview process; and your interactions with the hiring manager.
Let’s say it’s been a dream of yours to work for Lululemon or Nike, since you have a lot of its gear and have been a fan of the company for years. Just because the company makes your favourite apparel and make great ads, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company will be great place to work.
Then you think about the interactions you’ve had with the company during the interview process. So far, they’ve been organized and efficient in corresponding and meeting with you. Check. The HR associate and hiring manager have been pleasant and courteous. Check. Good so far.
But who will be your direct manager? If the hiring manager is going to be your direct boss, you can try to imagine serving under him as his direct report. (Is he a micromanager? Will he be demanding? Is he fair?) But it’s hard to get a fair picture of what this person will be like to work for, given the two or three hours you spend together during the entire hiring process.
“One of the biggest determinants of whether you will be successful at a company is its people.”
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way of telling you whether this is the right company for you. But there are certain things you can do to get the odds are in your favour. In my opinion, one of the biggest determinants of whether you will be successful at a company is its people; namely, your direct boss and your future team members.
What I would encourage you to do is to try to set up a casual coffee or lunch with your future boss, and then hit them with questions (in an indirect subtle way, of course) which help you determine if he is the type of person you want to work for. Like dating, it’s hard to know what a person is like over the course of one or two meetings, but it still gives you more information about the person than you had previously.
Also see if you can arrange a time to visit with other team members. Ask for a tour of the work area if possible. Can you get a feel for how team members interact with each other? How’s the work environment – is it chaotic? Buzzing with activity? Do you hear laughter? Ghostly silence? Do the people look like they are happy being there?
In your interactions with your direct boss and future team members, here are some things you can try to ascertain:
– What has been the general staff turnover in the department.
– Who are some of the long serving members in the team?
– What is the work culture like?
– Do they promote from within?
“You may very well end up relying on your gut to make your decision. It isn’t truly scientific, but sometimes it’s all you have.”
These are just some things you can do in deciding whether this is the right company for you. Bear in mind, you may not get all the information you need to make a proper decision. And you may very well end up relying on your gut to make your decision. It isn’t truly scientific, but it’s all you have.
In my experience, I have seen employees who by sheer luck ended up at a company for a decade or more, because many things worked out in their favour (having a fair boss, reliable team members, good salary and company perks, promotions, satisfying work, etc.) I have also seen employees who asked all the right questions during the initial interview process, checked all the right boxes, but for some reason, lasted only a year or two.
Again, to get the odds in your favour (after all, life outcomes are all about probabilities not certainties), you can try what has been suggested above. And be open for some lady luck!
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