Last summer I wrote this blog about the importance of colleagues in our professional life. I reflected on these relationships at the time because of a reunion with beloved former colleagues of mine. It’s summer once again and I was recently reminded of this same theme as Career Services met for our yearly office retreat. While I carry a constant appreciation for our team, I was especially reminded of the strengths of our staff and the genuine respect we have for one another as we shared, reflected, and planned. I left our retreat thinking, “I am so lucky to work with these people!” The best part is I knew it would be this way. Why? My interview three years ago told me so…
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. The interview serves as an important step for gathering information on not only the specifics of the position, but also the team you will be joining.
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 uninterested 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? If they do, that’s a good sign. Do employees 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 who care about your career and be that same person to others. You won’t regret it.