Everyone can remember the immense pride of winning an interview. There is nothing really like that adrenaline rush you get when you are finally told that they would like to offer you the post. Suddenly you’re six-foot off the ground; you must have been better than all those competitors; you really are something special. And now you can take that promotion and the rise in pay. What is there to think about? Of course, you will take the job.
But do you know everything you need to about this enormous new step in your life? Is it a job you really want or one of those of the many in which you just happened to fit the bill? Did you get carried away in celebration without deciding whether this was a real success or not?
Help! Get Me Out of Here!
What do we look for when we are going for a new job? Fundamentally it has to be the kind of work we have skills, talent or experience in. But what makes us want to make such big changes in our lives? It’s usually about getting more money, better status or maybe even a better location. These three tend to be the main factors which determine whether we take a job or not and unfortunately, because they are so powerful, they often blind us to the type of company we will be working for and the type of workplace culture we will be immersed in 7 hours a day. Only too late do we explore the culture of the company – almost as an afterthought.
This is really crazy – it’s a bit like buying a new house without taking a tour around it first. You are going to be spending almost 40 hours a week in your new job – don’t spend it in misery! Is that pay-rise or promotion really worth that?
Prepare Before the Interview
Before going to the interview do your research. Of course product details, service knowledge, and all the rest of it, feeds into the job description and is essential just to win the interview at the end of the day. But there is something you need which is a little more subtle. What is the workplace culture really like?
Find out about the company, their size, mission and values. The website can be useful here. As well as giving an idea as to where they are going, it will also give an idea as to how much they respect and look after their employees. For instance, are there pictures and bio’s of their staff? Are there testimonials from consumers? Does the company take part in events outside of work such as charitable events? Is there a specific page for values and mission?
Take the Chance to Find Out More…
After the interview, you may be offered the chance to look around the workplace. You may be desperate to get out after a heavy grilling, but apart from needing to look eager, this is your chance to get a snapshot of where you may be working every day.
Use the time to ask questions after the interview to talk about the work environment. You will need to pose the questions in terms of what is important to you. For instance, you may want to ask about cigarette breaks or, the average age of the workforce, whether there is a place to chill out or whether there are regular breaks.
All companies have their own unique workplace culture and probably to a large extent you need to experience that culture on a daily basis to know whether you are going to fit in well or not. But one factor which can give you a good idea as to what’s coming, is the size of the company. That is – is it a big or small company? Each will have its own pro’s and cons. Here’s a taster of things to consider:
On the plus side working for a large company is likely to be good for your CV and your career in the long run. They will come with their own gravitas – so to speak. Because they are big, they are likely to be able to offer more benefits to employees in order to attract the right kind of people to their workforce. For the same reason, they may well have multiple locations and sectors meaning you may able to diversify and grow sideways as well as up, and have more flexibility in where you work.
With size comes a lot of rules and hierarchies so there is likely to be a lot of bureaucracy. Also, you may feel like a small fish in a big pond or just a tiny cog in a big wheel. For some this workplace culture may be difficult if you are not seeing the “product” through the whole process. A big company may mean there is a great deal of staff rather than the old familiar faces making you feel alone in a sea of strangers however long you work there.
In a smaller company, teams are not so big and there is a more personal feel to the people you work with. You are more likely to have a line manager who is available to work with you and get to know you and support career development. Because it is a smaller team it is likely you will be taking on more tasks and muck in – therefore you will develop a greater skillset. You will perhaps play a larger role in the service or product production and see the process through from start to finish.
There is nowhere to hide when things go wrong. Because everyone knows everyone else’s business and relies on each other’s task within the process, there is more accountability. Company growth may not happen so consistently like a solid organisation that has its growth mapped out. For these reasons, there may not be so many openings for career development. A smaller company will not be able to offer the same benefits and salary is likely to be less.
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