I recently spent a reunion weekend with four former colleagues.  We have kept in touch over the last 10 years even as new jobs and life events have brought us to different companies and parts of the country. Our yearly weekend got me thinking about the important role our colleagues play in our own careers. We spend a majority of our waking hours at work, so who we clock those hours with on the job does matter. I would guess that most of us want to work with bright, driven, supportive people who strive to do their best. Strong leaders are probably at the top of this list, too. So, how do we determine the type of work environment a new company will offer? The interview.

Many times we are so focused on nailing the interview that we overlook our own first impressions of those we meet, most importantly, supervisors and team members. Take advantage of the time spent with these people during the interview. They are a reflection of the organization. If a supervisor or manager appears negative and aloof during the interview, then chances are that you will face these same qualities when you begin the job. Alternatively, do team members seem happy with their jobs? Do they refer to a strong team environment?

We won’t leave an interview knowing everything about everyone we meet. However, we will gain some degree of insight so that we can make an informed decision. Bring your own questions to the interview. If you interview with a supervisor or manager, be sure to ask about his or her supervision style. Inquire about a typical day on the job or specific challenges that a new hire may face in joining the group. If the answer is that the new hire will need to learn quickly without much guidance, then you have an idea of the type of supervision (or lack thereof) that you may receive. How will that suit you? Ask team members how long they have been with the organization and what they like best about the job. Do they speak highly of leadership? That’s a good sign. Does it seem like people join the company and stay? Another good sign.

I bet many of us already make these observations and ask similar questions during an interview. If you haven’t been asking questions and observing, be sure to take note. Surround yourself with good people (strong leaders and team members) who care about your career. You won’t regret it.


Author: Sarah

Sarah Hastings is a career counselor with the Nursing/Education/SP2 advising group.