Too often when we’re interviewing for a payroll or HR position we’re focused on landing the job instead of finding out if the HR position is right for us or if the company’s culture is what we want. An interview is not meant to be a one-way exercise where you solely prove yourself to a company – make sure the company engages with you a little as well. I always share with my candidates that you are interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you. As difficult and time-consuming as finding an HR or payroll job can be, the last thing you want to find yourself doing is searching for another job six-months out because it wasn’t the right long-term fit for all of the parties involved. Trust me, I’ve worked for Willory for almost 7 years now and I know personally know how valuable working in a culture can be to your professional AND personal life – we want to help you find the best possible fit for you.
When you are interviewing, it is imperative that you prepare questions for your interviewers and pay close attention to the subtle clues in the office environment. You want to gauge whether you’re interviewing at a place that fits you. Consider these tips to determine if a company culture is a fit for you.
If your interview is at 8:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. look around and see if the office is packed or empty. If there are a lot of people in the office at either time it may be an indicator that folks work a lot of hours, but it also might indicate people work flexibility by arriving early or late and leaving accordingly. As you continue through the interview process, work with your Willory contact to schedule subsequent interviews at different times of the day and don’t hesitate to ask questions about common schedules. For some—heck—for most –the schedule and company’s flexibility can be a decision-maker.
If your interviews give you the opportunity to walk through the office, keep an open eye on your surroundings. Are people laughing and enjoying themselves or will you be working next to Oscar the Grouch? Is the office organized or a are you on the next episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive? As you walk through, make eye contact with folks you walk by and say hello – see how people react. As you tour the space, do the people and space seem to fit with your personality?
If the luck of the interviewing location prevents you from being able to see the office, ask for a tour of the facility and a glimpse at where this position will be sitting. Of course, the farther you are into the HR interviewing process, the more receptive the company will be to tour you around. Depending on how you react to your environment, I don’t recommend taking a new job without going on a tour of the offices. As you never know what you may find (cue mad scientist laugh).
Is the setup cubicle-style, big open spaces, windowed offices or a lot of closed doors? If you require privacy to think, an open-office might be counterproductive for you. Does the space appear clean and well maintained, would you feel comfortable and safe in the space?
It’s repeated advice for a reason (hint hint)Try to make a positive impression on everyone you encounter – no matter where they are within the company hierarchy. If there is a receptionist, make small talk. If you get a chance to meet others around the office, say hello. Try to uncover the culture of the organization and how people interact with each other. By making a positive impression on each person you encounter, you’ll be sure to have some positive feedback on your candidacy.
Have you ever been in an interview where the hiring manager is interrupted either by people or technology? That’s a pretty good indication this person is overwhelmed or it might be a sign of company culture. Other indicators of a culture could be a late start, a rushed interview, an abrupt end for an “emergency” and even open versus closed doors for an interview. Each instance is indicative of the department’s culture and/or the hiring manager’s style.
How were you contacted for the interview and how will you communicate after? Does it align with your own communications style? Was the interview process with a group or was it a series of individual meetings? Group interviews suggest a collaborative environment that might be in-line with your preferences. Were you given assessments to measure either your personality fit or your technical aptitude? These investments show what’s important to the organization and are great cultural guideposts.
In the end, interviews are limited points in time and mistakes do happen. It’s your responsibility to gather as much intelligence as you can through both observing and asking questions. Finding a job is difficult, but if you’re able to find a culture you’ll thrive in, it can make a world of difference to your life.