Let’s play out a scenario that happens time and time again. You’re applying for new jobs and expect that maybe only a third of them will contact you, so you send out 20 or more resumes, hoping one of them will be a fit. You wait, maybe send out a few more applications, and play the job search shuffle while you wait to hear back. Finally, a recruiter calls, and they want to interview you! You get so excited that you don’t remember your first name, let alone why you applied to this company in the first place.

You spend the next week preparing yourself for the interview—running through interview questions, picking out your clothes, and giving yourself pep talks. However, if you’re not asking yourself this one question, you might be setting yourself up for failure before you sit down for the interview: Is the job the right fit for you? Deciding whether or not this is a company you want to work for is as important as preparing yourself for the interview, so there are a few things you should do to find out if the job is right for you before taking it (if it’s offered to you).

1.Research the company.

Start by Googling the company, but don’t stop there. Look on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or CareerBliss to compare salaries, look at reviews of the company from the inside, and consider the pros and cons of working at that company. You’ll have to use some judgment here as there are always those people who like to complain but seeing multiple negative reviews about the work environment at a company is definitely a red flag.

If it’s a company that provides services to the general public, look at what customers are saying about them on public platforms such as Google, Yelp, and social media. If the company has consistently lousy customer reviews, it may not have a good company culture, in general.

2. Interview your interviewers.

You might feel like you’re the only one in the hot seat, but so are they. The interview is the best opportunity you have to find out more about the company, so you should take advantage of that time to ask about things related to culture, what kind of person they’re looking for, and career outlook. Here are some questions you can ask to help you make an informed decision:

What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?

Do these things align with what you have to offer, or do they make you uncomfortable? The answer to that will tell you a lot with how you feel about the position.

What do you enjoy most about working at the company?

This is an excellent way to ask about the “perks” of working at a company without being too direct.

What does an average day/week look like in this position?

Sure, they probably included some of this information in the job description, but you should ask again to hear it in their own words. If the daily tasks sound awful to you, you probably aren’t going to like the job no matter how great the company is.

Can you talk about the company culture?

This is a tricky question for employers to answer and more difficult for them to fake. If it’s a terrible place to work, they won’t tell you so, but they’ll have a hard time being excited about all the opportunities afforded to them, the company leadership, or their coworkers if it’s a toxic environment. Make sure to also pay attention to their body language as they answer this question—it might tell you more than what they say.

What kind of career path is there for someone in this position?

Many people end up leaving a position because there was no room for growth, so you should ask about growth opportunities in the interview. This will show them that you’re a goal-oriented individual who wants to do well at the company while also giving you an idea of what the outlook for that role is.

3. Consider the salary.

Hopefully, the recruiter will beat you to the salary question and you won’t have to bring it up. However, sometimes you might find yourself in that awkward place where you have to ask. Some candidates are hesitant to ask about salary during the interview, but since it’s a big part of whether or not the job is the right fit, you shouldn’t feel wrong about (politely) asking about the salary. Don’t ask: “How much would I make in this role?” Instead, you should ask: “What is the salary range for this position?”

You probably won’t get an exact number, but it will give you a good idea whether or not their range aligns with what you had in mind. If that’s not something you want to bring up during the interview, you can wait until they offer you an exact amount to consider your options, but be aware that if it’s a lengthy interview process, you could be wasting a lot of time if it’s an amount you can’t accept.

4. Plan out your next steps.

After the interview, sit down and reflect on what you’ve learned. Many people don’t take the time to take down notes from the interview, which means if they are offered the job, they may not remember what was discussed and are then scrambling to make a decision based on incomplete information. Think through their answers to your questions and make a pros and cons list of things you thought sounded like a good fit vs. things that made you uneasy. No job will 100% line up with your expectations, but there should be much more that you feel good about than not before you take a job.  

Use this information and put it up against your own career goals and whether or not you see an opportunity for growth in the company. Does the company offer opportunities for advancement? Would you develop skills that will help you get to your next step? Can you see yourself enjoying the work? If not, then even a job with the right salary that looks great on paper may not be right for you.

5. Listen to your gut.

You can’t know exactly what a job will be like or what direction your career will take, so all you can do is make a decision based on the limited facts you do have and your instincts. Many people who are unhappy with their jobs will tell you that they knew the position wasn’t right for them but took it because it seemed like a great company, or the pay was good. Sometimes your instinct is the best guide you have when making important career decisions, so don’t discount it.

Deciding whether a job is the right fit for you is a tough decision. Sometimes you just need someone to talk through your options and get an outside perspective. At Executive Drafts, we’ve helped many clients work through difficult career decisions in the past through our career consulting services. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today!