Interviewing the Company

By John L. Nicodemus

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A company interviews you to ensure that you are qualified and will be a good “fit” for their company culture. You must do the same to see if the company is a good fit for you.

Ask Questions

The questions you need to ask are variations of those you might be asked in a behavioral interview. They might include:

Why are you hiring for this position?
How many people have held this position in the last two years?
How does the organization manage communications?
Are new approaches to the job encouraged?
Can you describe the decision making process the company typically follows?

You are trying to find out if this is a culture in which you will thrive. You might ask more non-specific type questions such as do you have a strategic plan for the business? What is the degree of autonomy that you might expect? As with all behavioral interviews, there are no right or wrong answers. There will only be answers with which you are more or less comfortable.

A True Story

I recently began working with a client and friend (I will call him George) that had left a job a year ago due to an extremely toxic boss. George was so desperate to get out of his old situation that he jumped at the first opportunity that came along, even though the pay was less and his commute grew from 15 to 90+ minutes.

George networked his way into the opportunity. During the interviewing process, he successfully focused on selling his product (himself) to a willing buyer. However, George missed one vital point - WAS THE COMPANY A GOOD FIT FOR HIM? As it turned out, the new boss, and company founder, was a continuously negative micro-manager who knew a lot about the product and almost nothing about how to run a business. Worse yet, he assumed that he knew everything about running a business and would not tolerate or listen to his employees ideas and suggestions. If you have never met such a person, you understand how de-motivationg and frustrating this can be!

Needless to say, George was extremely frustrated and anxious. In addition, the continuous negativity has made him doubt his own skill sets and seriously damaged his confidence. His personal circumstances were such that he could not quit until he had a new job in hand. Not ideal circumstances for a job search, but with the proper guidance and support, George survived this debacle. In the interim, George coped as best he could, and we spend hours on the phone discussing the situation.

Learn from George’s mistake - a job interview must be a two-way street! You are interviewing the company every bit as much as they are interviewing you. Ask probing questions. If the answers (or lack thereof) do not seem to fit you, thank them for the opportunity and walk the other way.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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