Job Seekers: Check Out the Company While They Check You Out

I’ve read a few different articles lately about what people should look for in a new job, and I thought I would chime in. In much of the material I’ve been reading the emphasis seems to be on workplace culture, but only in a shallow sense: Does it seem like the sort of place you can see yourself? Do the people there seem like the kinds of people you would want to spend your days with? And so on. However, something that I really encourage anyone fresh to the job market to do is full due-diligence on whatever organization they’re thinking about joining.

In addition to checking up on the business online, either in the news or on sites like Glassdoor, feel out the contacts you have at the organization about how the culture really is. Instead of just speaking to your prospective new boss during the interview (which is still really important), try to get some time with the person you’re replacing at the organization. If you don’t have any existing contacts at the organization, ask if you can have some time with a few employees who will give you candid answers about how the organization runs. Don’t be afraid to ask what the turnover rate is, or what exit interviews for the company found as have employees left.

Additionally, be sure to ask about the performance management system in place at the organization, as that can give you a real clue as to what’s valued in practice at the business, in addition to helping you understand opportunities for advancement. I go into this in depth in From Bully to Bull’s-Eye  (RCJ Press; January 10, 2017), but I sincerely believe that our workforce has the tools to see a toxic workplace coming. Many of the people I’ve worked with in toxic work environments could have saved a lot of heartache if they understood that when you go in for a job interview, you need to evaluate the organization as much as they evaluate you.