Use your job interview to evaluate the company

job interview
By Andrea Murad, CA Today

7 September 2016

Job interviews are a two-way street — while a company is assessing whether your skill set is right for the position and if you’ll work well with the team, you also need to determine whether the company is a good fit for your career.

You’ll be more successful in a work environment that suits your personality and you want to do your due diligence during the interview process. The ultimate long-term goal is to stay at that company for as long as they can.

“Work isn’t just a job – it’s part of your life and it’s important to make sure that this part of your life is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“It’s important to find a company that’s a good fit culturally and that will allow you to grow and succeed.” We spend most of our time at work, whether we’re in the office, commuting, thinking about the job or making other preparations for work, so you want to be happy at your job.

Figure out what you want and are looking for and ask questions to see if that company can offer that

There are many different aspects to consider and you have to ask the right questions and observe the environment during an interview. Everyone has different priorities so figure out what matters to you, whether that’s company culture, people, office environment, training opportunities, career advancement, manager, benefits or compensation.

Your homework starts before you apply to the job as you only want to consider companies where you’d be happy working. Make a checklist with what your current company has that you like and what you’d like in a new employer to help during the process.

happy worker

“Company websites and social media pages are great sources of information to a job seeker to get a better feel for the company and to learn what other employees are saying about working there,” says Rosemary. You can ask the recruiter or hiring manager for information about benefits and compensation when appropriate, as this information isn’t often shared on public websites.

The interview is key to finding out as much as you can about the company. “Figure out what you want and are looking for and ask questions to see if that company can offer that,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of Human Resources at Indeed.

Here are tips for what to look for:

The role

Knowing what the position entails is very important since that’s the work you’ll be doing on a daily basis. Ask about the role’s expectations and whether this is a new opposition or if they’re replacing a former employee. If the role is new, understand why the company is investing in the position, as this could be a sign the company is doing well.

Your co-workers

You’ll likely have an opportunity to talk to management and those who would be your peers during an interview. Talk about the work style and team dynamic so you can assess if you can work within that structure. You’re going to spend most of your time with peers, and you want to work with people you get along with.

Assessing whether employees are engaged is key as well. You want to work in an environment where people are happy and interested in the work that they do. You want to work with people who you like too.

Your manager

Your manager can be key to helping you achieve your career goals. They’ll be the one assigning you to projects and helping you get the training you desire. You want to understand how they develop their staff. “A simple question is to describe your leadership style,” says Paul. “How do you set goals and expectations and get feedback?”

cool office

Advancement opportunities

Achieving your career goals is important, and the best way to understand different opportunities for your role is to ask the hiring manager about different career progressions within that company. “Though it’s not necessarily a good idea to ask about career advancement in the first interview — this may signal to an employee that you’re not in it for the long haul — it’s important to ask about career planning for the future,” says Rosemary.


Ask the recruiter or hiring manager about development opportunities at the company and tailor your questions to what you’re looking for. Ask about on-going skills training, professional development, mentorship programs for new and experienced employees, and tuition assistance for additional education outside of the office.

“If you want a more candid response to the effectiveness of training at your new employer, just ask another employee or research the company on social media,” says Rosemary. “A personal connection that’s either a past or current employee might be happy to share their experience with training.”

Physical space

You want to look to see how the workspace is set up, if there’s a collaborative environment and other seating where employees spend time — someplace where you’d like to work. “You want to be comfortable in your workspace and you want the office to be comfortable to you,” says Paul.

About the author

Andrea Murad is a New York–based writer. Having worked on both Wall Street and Main Street, she now pursues her passion for words. She covers business and finance, and her work can be found on BBC Capital, Consumers Digest,, Global Finance and


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