Imagine you’re in a job interview and everything is looking great – the job looks interesting, the salary and perks are about right, people seem nice.
What you really need to know now is, “Is this a nice place to work?” Are people happy at work here? Are the managers good? Are the co-workers nice? Or is this company a branch office of one of the nastier levels of hell?
You could always ask them straight out at the interview. “Say… I was wondering… Is this a good place to work?”
But you pretty much know what they’ll say, don’t you? “Why certainly, dear applicant, this company is fully committed to the well-being of its employees. We strive to maintain a high level of employee satisfaction and employees are our number one asset.”
So what questions can you ask to cut through the corporate b.s. and learn whether this is an actual, honest-to-god, nice workplace?
Here’s what you can do: Ask the people interviewing you about their best experiences working for the company. Questions like:
- What’s been your best experience working at this company?
- When do you have the most fun at work ?
- Who do you enjoy working with the most here? What do you like about them?
- Which manager do you admire the most in this company? What do you admire about that person?
- What’s the greatest thing your manager has done for his/her people?
You can ask the person interviewing you. If your future boss is at the interview, ask her. An even better option, if at all possible, is to get a chance to ask some of your potential co-workers. Some companies make this possible, and that’s the best way to learn more about the company.
What’s so great about those questions?
- Because you’re asking about people’s own experiences, these questions are hard to dodge or to answer with platitudes and corporate flim-flam.
- These are all positive questions. Even if the person interviewing you is a serial complainer, you will get some information on what’s great about this company.
- If they think these questions are just waaaay off base and inappropriate, that’s probably a good sign that they’re not into the whole “happy at work” thing :o)
- Answering positive questions like these puts people in a good mood, which means they’re more likely to like you and consequently more likely to hire you.
Care to try it?
Let me come clean here: I’ve only been to two job interviews in my life – both at the very beginning of my career! I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 15 years, so I have never tried to use them in this way myself.
However, I have used the same type of questions in sales meetings (which are not too different from job interviews when you think about it), where they work very well.
These questions will give you a much better idea of what a company and its people are really like. If good stories and great experiences start flowing and the word “fun” comes up a lot, that’s an indication of a great workplace.
If they look at you like “That’s the weirdest question I’ve ever heard” it may not be.
So: What do you think? Would it work for you? Have you done something like this already? Write a comment!