A job interview is not only an opportunity for the company to evaluate you, but also a time for you to decide if the company is a place where you would like to work. During your interview, make sure to observe the company environment and employees. Take a tour of the office and if possible, meet potential colleagues. Is the office environment formal or informal; are employees friendly or standoffish? It will give you a glimpse into company culture and help you to decide if you want to work there. In a recent Forbes article, Jacquelyn Smith, highlights 9 things to pay attention to during the interview:
1. Employee Interaction
If you will potentially work with these people, it is important to know how the employees interact with each other and those outside the company, on a regular basis. Do employees seem friendly, genuine, and helpful, or cold, rude, and unsupportive? You should begin this observation the moment you walk into reception; does the receptionist greet you in a welcoming manner? Do employees acknowledge you when they pass? Keep in mind, people who enjoy the company and what they do, are often friendlier.
2. Answering Phones
How employees answer the phones, can be a reflection of company culture. When answering, do people appear to be warm and charismatic or serious, robotic, and scripted? A charismatic response often means that the company appreciates individual personalities and people enjoy working there. Scripted responses can sometimes mean that the company environment is more restricting. These evaluations can also be made when listening to the employees’ voicemails.
3. Body Language
Pay attention to how employees carry themselves in the office. Do employees seem at ease or nervous? Do people tend to appear uncomfortable when management is nearby? Do employees walk with confidence and purpose? Often, body language is more telling than what people say.
4. Pace of the Work Environment
Although the pace of the work environment can vary based on industry, it is still important to take notice. Usually in a fast-paced environment, employees are always on the move and phones are constantly ringing. This can indicate that there is additional pressure to keep up. Will you do well in this type of environment? You must decide at which pace you work best.
Are the company and its employees organized? Some cues to look for: does the interview start on time; is the interviewer prepared? If the interview begins late without a good reason or the interviewer appears unfocused and preoccupied with his or her phone, these are not good signs. Lack of organization is not a good quality for a company.
6. Physical Office Environment
Is the office comprised of mostly cubicles or is the working space more open? Do employees personalize their desks or do work areas seem bland? If you have the opportunity, also take a look at common areas such as the bathrooms, conference rooms, and the lunch room. Do the layouts encourage social interaction and creativity? The physical office environment is often a reflection of the day-to-day culture of a company.
7. Employee Dress
Some offices require its employees to wear suits every day, while other companies allow for a more laid back wardrobe. Which employee attire would you prefer?
8. Supervisor Interaction with Employees
Although this is not always possible to observe during a job interview, if possible, see how supervisors work together with their employees. Do the supervisors appear to be overpowering or open-minded? This interaction can clue you in to the type of work environment you would become a part of.
9. Level of Busyness
Overall, do employees look busy and engaged? Keep in mind, if employees look too overwhelmed and tired, this can be a sign that the firm is understaffed. On the other hand, if employees appear bored and have a lot of free time, business might be slow.
Best of luck!