When I was out there looking for my first job(s) – I was looking for a place to go to make money. Looking back on it and on my resume in my early 20s, I had quite a few jobs for many different reasons. But mostly because I was making bad choices on the people I was going to work with and focused on the money I would be making in the job rather than making sure it was a great place to work where I could be successful.
So in a very adhoc way, in an interview process, I started to realize I could assess my fit, ask questions and evaluate the people interviewing me. When I was just graduating with my first degree, I got an interview with IBM. I actually knew I was not a good fit for them but wanted to get more experience in the interview process and confirm to myself that I would not be a good fit.
Maybe at the time I should not have wasted IBMs time BUT I was young and not that experienced with interviewing and knew IBM had a solid process so they could find other people who would want to wear “blue”. I made it through every interview stage to a job offer. I sat in the office with the hiring manager and thanked him for the offer but let him know I thought the job was exciting but I was not a good fit. He was not surprised. I asked him why he continued to put me through the interview process and he said they really wanted to attract people like myself.
This experience was one of the very obvious situations I found myself in where I was assessing the people and the company as much as they were assessing me. To do the same, here is what I recommend:
- Look for “FIT” – first off I try to arrive at the interview early so I can sit in their reception area watching what is happening with team members, how customers are treated, etc. I am assessing if I could work in that environment. I am looking to see if their core values match with mine.
- Questions to Ask – In the interview, when I get a chance to ask questions, there are 4 key questions I would ask of my boss to be:
- What are your long term plans in your career?
- What are 3 things you are really good at professionally?
- What 3 things that you are not good at professionally or do not like to do?
- If I asked other team members who report to you – how would they rate their experience working with you?
- References – I would actually seek out people who worked there to find out more about the work environment and to see if they are an ‘A’ Player in your opinion. ‘A’ players will not tolerate a ‘C’ Player boss or any ‘C’ Players. So if there are any ‘A’ players already on the team – more than one – you can rest assured there are more.
I know this sound ballsy – but as an ‘A’ player you don’t want to waste a minute in the wrong role with a boss who is not an ‘A’ player. I have done a lot of hiring and I love when an ‘A’ player fires questions back to me like this. I expect an ‘A’ player to be interviewing me as much as I am interviewing them. This gives me great confidence that they are an ‘A’ player because they have the courage to ask these questions, they are confident at what they do well and they want to work in an environment with other ‘A’ Players. They are concerned as much as we, the hiring company, to get the right person in the right role. Good luck in finding an ‘A’ player boss.