Have you ever walked out of an interview thinking, "Wow! This job almost sounds too good to be true!"
If so, there's a reason for that.
Don't forget: The interview is a two-way street. Yes, you're selling yourself to them, but they're also selling you on the job. This is especially true if you're a high-quality candidate. Your interviewer may paint a beautiful picture of what the company has to offer, but sadly, it might not be a full or accurate picture.
It happens all the time: You start a new job only to find out that the position isn't what you thought it would be, the travel required is far greater than you expected, the hours don't match what was promised…
Interviewers aren't necessarily trying to intentionally mislead you. In some cases, they might be ill-informed themselves. Fooling a candidate into taking a position doesn't do the company any favors. Surveys show that employees who get the wrong information during the interview are much more likely to feel unsatisfied and start looking to work elsewhere quickly.
Still, a 2012 report from Development Dimensions International, Inc. reveals the most common complaint among new hires is getting an unrealistic, inaccurate picture of the job during the hiring process.
So, what's a job candidate to do? In short, you have to investigate. Ask questions and do your own research.
Questions to Ask
There are two different "types" of questions to ask your interviewer. One type probes for real, factual information. The second gathers perception-based information, which is subjective and shouldn't be taken as pure fact.
- What is the turnover rate for this position?
- Do you have any statistics regarding employee engagement? (Some companies do surveys.)
- Can I see the full, official job description?
- Who will I be working with most and can I meet them?
- Can you tell me about the company culture?
- Can you tell me about the dynamics of the team I'll be working with?
Of course, there's no guarantee that the above questions will elicit "truth" so it's worthwhile doing a little research on your own as well.
1. Observation: While you're there for the interview, look around. What does the environment feel like? Do people look happy and productive, or stressed and overworked?
2. Public Information: Look at the financials of the company (if it's public); read press releases, customer reviews, and other information available online. All of this gives you a sense of the company's overall standing and reputation.
3. Glassdoor.com: This website gives you an insider's look at what it's really like to work at a company. Current and former employees can post anonymously regarding anything—company culture, job duties, salaries, interviews, you name it.
Next time you head out for an interview, remember that it's not just about proving you're the right person for the job. It's also about making sure the job is right for you.
It's still pretty likely that, once you're in the job, you'll experience a few surprises—some good, some bad. Hopefully, following these tips will help ensure you start with realistic expectations and minimize the negative revelations.
Chrissy Scivicque, the founder of EatYourCareer.com, believes work can be a nourishing life experience. As a career coach, corporate trainer, and public speaker, she helps professionals of all levels unlock their true potential and discover long-lasting career fulfillment.