The excitement that comes with getting a phone call for an interview is like none other. Landing that dream job is often the sole focus of the candidate during the interview process. Candidates prepare answers, think about potential questions, and try to present their best appearance to their future bosses. While all of that is essential to landing your dream job, interviews are a two-way street. It is incredibly important to use the opportunity to understand the company’s culture better. In particular, you should consider the work environment and how good of a fit it would be for your desired lifestyle if they offered you the job. As a trivial example, some people love the flexibility to work from home, and if your potential employer does not provide that, it may be an issue. Spotting a terrible work environment can save you a lot of wasted time and energy.

Read the Reviews

Before accepting an interview with a company, make sure you read the reviews on it. There are many websites on which former employees can post reviews about their employer. The most popular and informative site is Read the reviews from people that most closely match the position you are applying for carefully. In particular look for some big red flags. Long work hours or a lack of respect for personal time would be a big red flag. An inconsistent system for awarding merit raises and bonuses would be another issue. Some current and former employees may have a grudge against a company, but generally, after reading enough reviews, you will have a good sense of the corporate culture. If you see too many red flags, it might be better to gracefully decline the interview or exit the interview process, earlier rather than later.

It is a Family Business

Not all family businesses are poor workplaces. However if the company you are interviewing with has a president that is the father, a salesperson that is the mother, an accountant that is the daughter, and a marketing person that is the son, you should probably proceed lightly. It likely means that if you accept the position, you will have a hard time getting your voice heard and potential difficulty receiving promotions to the top spots.

You may also find yourself caught in the middle of family disagreements, which is a lose-lose situation for you. Again, many family-run businesses are great places to work, but if you are interviewing with a company that has many family members in it, be aware that it may potentially become a toxic work environment. Generally, looking for companies with fewer family members may result in a less political, less problematic workplace.

Challenge Them on Core Values

Many companies have mission statements. The majority of organizations have their mission statement on their website, but you may also see it posted on the wall of the office. Use the interview to ask more specifically about the company’s mission. How is the company making the world a better place? How would the skills you possess help make the world a better place if you were to accept the position? If the interviewer cannot answer with concrete examples, then the mission statement is most likely not at the core of the corporate culture. If they are not continuously working towards their mission, what is to say that they are also neglecting keeping other aspects of the business strategy current such as job descriptions? Instead, look for companies that are honest and cognizant in both their advertising and through their actions.

How Long Has Everyone Been There?

Questions around tenure of employees are often great to ask during interviews.  However, it can be a double-edged sword. If all of the people you interview with have only been there two years or less and the company has a long history, then it could indicate that they have a high turnover. If this is the case, most likely there is a lack of stability in the organization.

On the other hand, if all the people you interview with have been there for 15 years, then the organization is more stable and values their employees. Healthy companies have a mix of new employees and old. Ideally, during the interview process, it is great to hear “I stayed because they valued me” from an old-timer and “my opinions are valued, respected, and I have had a promotion since joining” from a fresh employee. That is the sign of a healthy, stable job.

It Just Does Not Feel Right

While “my gut says no” sounds like a weak reason to decline a job, it is often the best reason. When the right relationship comes along, you know it. That is also true for a job. The right job feels right. You click with the people. The work environment inspires you. The answers you get are ones that speak to you. If you find yourself in the interview process frequently debating one negative against another positive, it is probably not a great work environment for you. No workplace is perfect, but good workplaces feel good. They feel genuine, open, and interested in having you come there to do your best work.

Finding the right job is essential, especially if you are looking for a long-term position. Many job opportunities will come your way, but it is vital for you to pick the one that makes the most sense for you. Money is a great motivator, but seldom do people stay exclusively for the money. Make sure that you are looking at the entire package. After all, the number of hours you will be at work outweigh the amount that you will be awake and alert with your family. It is crucial that you do not hate every minute of your job. Hopefully, these tips will help you weed out the bad workplaces and help you find the perfect job.

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