11 Ways to Size Up a Prospective Employer

Before running to the alter with a new employer, it’s important to make sure it's a feasible long-term career opportunity.

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Lindsay Olson
The job market is picking up. Companies are hiring and candidates aren’t as nervous to consider working for a new employer. The fear of being the "last one in, first one to go" is slowly diminishing as employers are aggressively seeking to fill new positions.

Before running to the alter with a new employer for promises of a higher salary or better job title, it’s important to make sure it’s a feasible long-term career opportunity. The most regrettable job decisions can be avoided by asking probing questions throughout the interview process.

[See 21 Secrets to Getting the Job Offer Now.]

Interview your future boss. Ask questions about the department. Evaluate the company culture. The culture and work environment need to match your style. You’ll be working here during most of your waking hours, so make sure you feel comfortable with the environment and the company’s values. If possible, try to interview during the busy work hours rather than early in the morning or very end of day when you can get a better sense of the environment.

Some questions to consider and why:

[See The Truth Behind Those Crazy Interview Questions.]

  1. Where did the boss start in the organization? (Experience as a manager, internal advancement opportunities)
  2. How long have your future colleagues worked there? (Turnover and why the position is open)
  3. What does the potential boss enjoy most about her position and the company? (Passion, happiness)
  4. What would they change? (Issues, team/company challenges, transparency, honesty)
  5. What type of support does the company provide to groom and grow their staff? (Career/personal advancement)
  6. What is the hiring manager’s management style?
  7. What would you be expected to accomplish in the first six month to a year on the job? (Realistic expectations)
  8. How will your success be evaluated? (Realistic expectations)
  9. What have current and former employees under this manager accomplished in the company? (Signs of career progression, personal/career development, strong manager)
  10. Is there a formal review cycle? Is it annually, quarterly, etc.? (How much feedback you’ll receive)
  11. What percentage of employees in the company have been promoted in the past year? (upward mobility, internal advancement, promoting from within)
  12. Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing, a national search firm that specializes in placing public relations and communications professionals. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.