Dr Seuss said: “You have brains in your head, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” This applies to your career. Yes you want a job, and you want a job that you want to do, with people that you want to work with – so don’t forget that to achieve this you should interview the interviewer and gather as much information about the company and its leaders as you can.
As you get older, an organisations’ values, work ethic, and structure matter even more than at the start of your career. For me, it’s important to remain a class act and manage my integrity. I like working with people who make grounded decisions, honour their commitments, and do not offer something they cannot deliver.
Most people are afraid to ask poignant and probbing questions because they think these might scare away the interviewer. The reality is that doing this demonstrates your interest. It shows initiative to want to learn more about the firm and its culture. It also provides encouragement that could possibly lead to an offer.
Interviewing the interviewer also helps you decide whether you would actually accept if offered a job. It allows you to determine what your concerns are at an early stage rather than when you have started a job that is not a good fit in terms of responsibility or culture.
Also listen carefully to what kind of questions they are asking you. If you are interviewing for junior roles, I would naturally expect basic questions about goals, interests, challenges, and five-year plans. But after a certain point in your career, the experiences that define your professional background will be highlighted on your resume. If you are near mid- to senior-level management, the employer’s questions should reflect the calibre and integrity of the opportunity. Interviewing the interviewer then allows you to further probe whether it’s a leading organisation or just a B player.
Use the offer negotiation process as another way to get to know the firm and how its leaders communicate. I would look for signs that they don’t honour commitments or treat their employees well. Do they have high turnover? Do their past employees speak well of them? Are their current employees happy? Do they promote staff retention through generous benefits and responsible promotion? What do their clients say about them?
During the time in which you are waiting for a decision, investigate the firm and the people you could potentially work alongside and report to. Thanks to social media, you can also contact past employees. Tell people in your network that you met with the firm and see what they have to say.
Just as a potential employer will check your background, you too have the right to dig for dirt. It’s better to know the “nitty gritty” as soon as you can.
The Runaway MBA is an American financial services professional looking for work in Asia. The views expressed are hers and not those of eFinancialCareers.