What If the Fit is Truly Wrong?

You do your homework on the company in advance.  You ask probing questions in the interview.  You network with current and former employees of the company.  You believe you have a good read on the company culture and you accept the position.  Now you have been there a few months and you realize you read it completely wrong.  What can you do?  Is it ok to leave after just a short period of time?

First priority is to learn from the experience.  What signs did you miss?  What questions should you have asked?  Figure out what bothers you most about the culture and think about to avoid it in the future.  If you don’t know how you landed in such a poor fit for you, there is a chance you could repeat the error.  Be very honest with yourself and seek to truly learn from this experience.

While job hopping is not the taboo if once was, you want to have a clear sense of what the best next step is for you.  Don’t be so eager to get out of the situation that you jump at the first job that comes along.  Have a priority list of what is important to you in your next position.  Do your homework.

Be prepared to tell your story.  With a short stint on your resume, you are bound to be asked about it in an interview.  Be prepared to address the change.  Own the mistake and show that you are doing something about it.  Try not to bash the other company or your manager in the process.  Just not the best fit for you.

Try to tough it out while you look for another position.  Unless you are in a hostile work environment or are being asked to do something unethical, it is much easier to look for work while you are still employed.  Make a commitment to doing some networking every week.  Build your target list of companies and aggressively work the process.

Early in my career I accepted the wrong job at one point.  It was very quickly clear that there was not enough work to keep me busy.  That is something that makes me crazy.  While I reached out to colleagues and offered to help, there was just not enough work.  I was also concerned about how some of the work was being done.  My biggest concerns were that if I stayed, I’d develop bad work habits, negatively impact my work ethic and could potentially damage my credibility.  I started networking immediately, built a target list of companies and soon landed a new position.  I learned a lot about what is important to me in an employer from that experience and it served me well in the long run.

If you are truly in the wrong job at the wrong company, ramp up your networking and focus on finding a job that is right for you.

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Assessing Company Culture

A critical part of the interview process is assessing fit – does the candidate fit the company culture and does the company culture fit the candidate?  How can a candidate accurately assess the culture of the company they are considering?

Do Your Research:  Don’t just look at the company website.  Social media will give you much better insight into the culture of the organization.  Look at what they post on Twitter or Facebook.  Check out their videos.  Also look at independent sites such as Glass Door to see feedback from employees.

Network:  Even with social media there is some level of company control over messages.  Talk to current and former employees.  Leverage your Linked In connections and alumni contacts to identify contacts who can tell you what it is like to work there.  Ask them why they chose to join the company.  What keeps them there?  What do they like most about their work there?  What do they like the least?

Observe:  Arrive a few minutes early for your interview.  While you are waiting in the lobby pay attention to how employees interact with one another.  If there is no interaction, that certainly tells you something about the culture.

Pay Attention to Heavy Emphasis:  If everyone you talk to in the interview process mentions the pool table in the lounge or the summer outing, you should do more probing.  If they are all talking about the same thing is the emphasis on the wrong things?  Do their actions support the scripted message?

Before you decide to spend several years of your career with a company, it is critical to gain insight into the culture to determine if this is a place where you would choose to spend your days.

 

 

Interviewing the Interviewer

It is a common best practice for job seekers to prepare to put their best foot forward in an interviewer.  They will do research on the company and the position.  They will practice common interview questions.  Based on the job description they will consider likely behavioral interview questions and practice their responses.  They should also talk with their networking contacts about the company, the department and the role.  In spite of all this careful preparation, many candidates neglect to prepare for the critical aspect of interviewing the interviewer.

A major goal of the interview is for both parties to assess fit.  They only way the candidate can do this effectively is the have questions prepared to ask the interviewer.  Here are some valuable questions to consider:

Why is this position open at this time?  If it is a new position, you want to understand what business needs supported approval of a new position.  If it is a replacement, was the person promoted and they are backfilling the position or did the employee leave?  If the employee left, how long were they in the position?  How frequently is this position open?  You are seeking insight into the business need for the job, the success of people in this job and how this job is treated within the organization.

How will you evaluate success in this position in the first three, six and twelve months?  You want to know if they have clear expectations of what success looks like and how it is measured.  Are they realistic about the time it will take to ramp up in this new position?

Why did you choose to join this company?  What keeps you here?  Asking a general question about what the culture of the organization is like with likely get you a general answer.  When you personalize it you will hear a much more honest response.

How does this organization develop staff?  No one will promise you a promotion in so many months, and if they do it is likely a red flag.  Instead ask about how they invest in their staff to prepare them for future opportunities.  Do they provide training or support outside training?  Are staff members encouraged to attend relevant conferences?  Is there any type of mentoring program?

Ask about the future of the business  Do enough research to understand key growth initiatives and ask a relevant question that results in valuable information while also demonstrating that you did your homework.  Maybe it relates to a recent press release or a new product but you need to identify something that feels relevant and ask a specific question.

A job candidate can nail their responses to the interviewer’s questions but may not get the job if they are not also interviewing the interviewer.  In addition to the valuable insights you gain to help you assess fit, you are also demonstrating your interest and your preparation.

Job Offer Independence: Do’s and Don’ts to Consider

 

After many informational interviews, job applications, additional rounds of interviews and background checks, you finally land an offer.  Congratulations!  While it is a huge relief to receive an offer, temper your enthusiasm long enough to carefully consider your decision.

You need to exert your independence and trust your gut, especially in this situation.  If you have nagging feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.  Fit is absolutely critical for success in your next position.  Here are some thoughts on fit and some questions to use in the interview process to help you determine if this opportunity is indeed an appropriate fit for you.

Why? Well, fit is the most critical determination in hiring for both the hiring manager and the candidate.  For the hiring manager, there are typically multiple candidates with the skills to do the job.  The challenge is finding the best person for the job based on how they fit with the team and the culture of the organization.  For the candidate it is tempting to accept whatever job is offered, but you set yourself up for issues down the road if the fit is not good.

Fit has two components: First, the team of people you will be working with; second, the overall company culture. Here’s what to keep in mind while you’re considering that next career move:

Team Fit – Hiring managers hire people they want to work with each day.  The team is more productive and work is more enjoyable for everyone if people can work together and get along. It is not necessary to be best friends (and often best if that isn’t the case), but a successful business relationship is critical for success on the job.  You want to determine your level of comfort with the hiring manager and the team you would be working with if you accept the position.  If the interview goes well, and you receive an offer, it is appropriate to ask for an opportunity to meet the team if that was not already part of the interview process.

Throughout the interview process, you should be asking questions to help you assess your fit with the team and the company.

Questions for the manager:

  • What is your management style?
  • How do you like your team to communicate with you?
  • How do you define success for this position?  What measurements would be critical?
  • How do you assign special projects or cross-function projects?
  • Why is this position available?  Is it a new position or did some leave?  Where did they go?
  • How long have you been in this position?  With this company?
  • What is the tenure of your staff members?

For the team:

  • What do you like most about being on this team?
  • What do you like least?
  • How would you describe the manager’s management style?
  • Why did you choose to join this team?
  • How long have you been in your current position?
  • Are the measurements for success clear?

At some point you have to rely on your gut feeling as to whether or not you would be comfortable working with this team and this manager.  If it doesn’t feel right in the interview it likely won’t feel better once you are on the job.

Company Culture – One of the goals of the interview is for the candidate to gain insight into the company culture.  It is also extremely valuable to use your network to gather these insights, as well.  The more feedback you can collect on the culture of the company, the more informed a decision you can make.  There is not necessarily a right or wrong culture, but it is important to find one that fits you and your work style.  Aspects of company culture to consider:

  • Where do decisions get made?  Are employees empowered to make decisions or at least recommend decisions to their managers or are decisions only made at the top of the organization?
  • Is the organization centralized or decentralized?  Do business units work autonomously?  Do all product lines receive support from a central team or does each product line have its own support team?
  • Does the organization have silos?  Do finance people only talk to other finance people and marketing people only talk to marketing people or is there a strong cross-functional effort?  Do people work together to solve problems or are they quick to assign blame?
  • Is there an emphasis on learning and development?  Is it just in the handbook and on the website or is it real?  Have people had opportunities to grow and expand their experiences?
  • Does the company truly promote from within or simply pay lip service to the concept?
  • Does every employee clearly understand how their specific job contributes to the overall goals of the company?
  • Do people even know what the overall goals of the company are?
  • Does the CEO sit in his office or travel all the time or is he/she seen in the various departments talking to employees?
  • Is the bias to action or to in depth analysis before a decision can be made?
  • Does the management team expect every decision to be perfect or are they willing to risk some wrong decisions in the name of being responsive?
  • Are they open to new ideas and different ways of doing things or does the “we’ve always done it that way” approach rule?

Being in an appropriate work culture can significantly enhance your personal engagement, satisfaction and happiness.  If the culture is a good fit with your personal style, you can thrive and succeed in that environment.  If you are constantly in conflict with the culture, you are more susceptible to becoming frustrated and discontent.

Culture varies by company and by management style; it is not necessarily a function of size.  There are large companies that are very inclusive and flexible and small companies that can be very rigid and top down.  This is why it is especially important to gain perspective from people who work there.

Good questions to ask during an interview or networking meeting to assess some of the culture issues include:

  • What originally attracted you to this company?  Why have you chosen to stay?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • How would you describe the culture of this company?  What do you value most about the culture?
  • What training would typically be offered for this position?
  • Are there any cross-function projects currently underway involving this department?
  • What improvements have you seen in the department in the last couple years?

When you do receive an offer, say ‘thank you,’ and be sure to request time to think about it.  This is a major life decision, so it is reasonable that you should take at least 24 hours to consider it carefully.  It may be very helpful to prepare and review a list of pros and cons, as well.

Think about what you like most about the company and the opportunity and what concerns you the most.  Do you have networking contacts to discuss the concerns and provide more insight?  Talk to your spouse or significant other, your parents or other mentors.

After careful consideration, exert your independence and trust your gut. After all, it’s not only the next step in your career, but where you’ll be spending a majority of your time and energy for the immediate future, so it makes sense to choose wisely!

Job Offer Independence: Do’s and Don’ts to Consider

After many informational interviews, job applications, additional rounds of interviews and background checks, you finally land an offer.  Congratulations!  While it is a huge relief to receive an offer, temper your enthusiasm long enough to carefully consider your decision.

You need to exert your independence and trust your gut, especially in this situation.  If you have nagging feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.  Fit is absolutely critical for success in your next position.  Here are some thoughts on fit and some questions to use in the interview process to help you determine if this opportunity is indeed an appropriate fit for you.

Why? Well, fit is the most critical determination in hiring for both the hiring manager and the candidate.  For the hiring manager, there are typically multiple candidates with the skills to do the job.  The challenge is finding the best person for the job based on how they fit with the team and the culture of the organization.  For the candidate it is tempting to accept whatever job is offered, but you set yourself up for issues down the road if the fit is not good.

Fit has two components: First, the team of people you will be working with; second, the overall company culture. Here’s what to keep in mind while you’re considering that next career move:

Team Fit – Hiring managers hire people they want to work with each day.  The team is more productive and work is more enjoyable for everyone if people can work together and get along. It is not necessary to be best friends (and often best if that isn’t the case), but a successful business relationship is critical for success on the job.  You want to determine your level of comfort with the hiring manager and the team you would be working with if you accept the position.  If the interview goes well, and you receive an offer, it is appropriate to ask for an opportunity to meet the team if that was not already part of the interview process.

Throughout the interview process, you should be asking questions to help you assess your fit with the team and the company.

Questions for the manager:

  • What is your management style?
  • How do you like your team to communicate with you?
  • How do you define success for this position?  What measurements would be critical?
  • How do you assign special projects or cross-function projects?
  • Why is this position available?  Is it a new position or did some leave?  Where did they go?
  • How long have you been in this position?  With this company?
  • What is the tenure of your staff members?

For the team:

  • What do you like most about being on this team?
  • What do you like least?
  • How would you describe the manager’s management style?
  • Why did you choose to join this team?
  • How long have you been in your current position?
  • Are the measurements for success clear?

At some point you have to rely on your gut feeling as to whether or not you would be comfortable working with this team and this manager.  If it doesn’t feel right in the interview it likely won’t feel better once you are on the job.

Company Culture – One of the goals of the interview is for the candidate to gain insight into the company culture.  It is also extremely valuable to use your network to gather these insights, as well.  The more feedback you can collect on the culture of the company, the more informed a decision you can make.  There is not necessarily a right or wrong culture, but it is important to find one that fits you and your work style.  Aspects of company culture to consider:

  • Where do decisions get made?  Are employees empowered to make decisions or at least recommend decisions to their managers or are decisions only made at the top of the organization?
  • Is the organization centralized or decentralized?  Do business units work autonomously?  Do all product lines receive support from a central team or does each product line have its own support team?
  • Does the organization have silos?  Do finance people only talk to other finance people and marketing people only talk to marketing people or is there a strong cross-functional effort?  Do people work together to solve problems or are they quick to assign blame?
  • Is there an emphasis on learning and development?  Is it just in the handbook and on the website or is it real?  Have people had opportunities to grow and expand their experiences?
  • Does the company truly promote from within or simply pay lip service to the concept?
  • Does every employee clearly understand how their specific job contributes to the overall goals of the company?
  • Do people even know what the overall goals of the company are?
  • Does the CEO sit in his office or travel all the time or is he/she seen in the various departments talking to employees?
  • Is the bias to action or to in depth analysis before a decision can be made?
  • Does the management team expect every decision to be perfect or are they willing to risk some wrong decisions in the name of being responsive?
  • Are they open to new ideas and different ways of doing things or does the “we’ve always done it that way” approach rule?

Being in an appropriate work culture can significantly enhance your personal engagement, satisfaction and happiness.  If the culture is a good fit with your personal style, you can thrive and succeed in that environment.  If you are constantly in conflict with the culture, you are more susceptible to becoming frustrated and discontent.

Culture varies by company and by management style; it is not necessarily a function of size.  There are large companies that are very inclusive and flexible and small companies that can be very rigid and top down.  This is why it is especially important to gain perspective from people who work there.

Good questions to ask during an interview or networking meeting to assess some of the culture issues include:

  • What originally attracted you to this company?  Why have you chosen to stay?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • How would you describe the culture of this company?  What do you value most about the culture?
  • What training would typically be offered for this position?
  • Are there any cross-function projects currently underway involving this department?
  • What improvements have you seen in the department in the last couple years?

When you do receive an offer, say ‘thank you,’ and be sure to request time to think about it.  This is a major life decision, so it is reasonable that you should take at least 24 hours to consider it carefully.  It may be very helpful to prepare and review a list of pros and cons, as well.

Think about what you like most about the company and the opportunity and what concerns you the most.  Do you have networking contacts to discuss the concerns and provide more insight?  Talk to your spouse or significant other, your parents or other mentors.

After careful consideration, exert your independence and trust your gut. After all, it’s not only the next step in your career, but where you’ll be spending a majority of your time and energy for the immediate future, so it makes sense to choose wisely!

Listen More than You Talk

People naively think that the more they talk in an interview, the more successful they are in the interview.  This is often not the case at all.  It’s the old “two ears and only one mouth” for a reason.  To maximize your effectiveness, listen more than you talk.

Learn about the Company and the Position – You have already researched the company online and had a couple informational interviewers with their employees.  This preparation helps you in your interview but be careful not to assume you know all you need.  Listen to what the interviewer is telling you about the company and the specific position.  Evaluate this against what you’ve already heard.  If it is not consistent it could be a red flag.

Gain Insights on the Manager’s Style and Expectations – Interviews with HR, the hiring manager and other members of the team can provide valuable insights into the manager’s style and expectations.  How well does the team work together?  While sometimes they share information directly and other information can be gleaned from the questions they ask.  If several people ask if you can work with little supervision, don’t expect a hands on manager.  Listen carefully to understand what is important to them.

Assess the Company Culture and Your Fit –While the interviewer is trying to assess your fit with the company, you need to also be assessing whether their culture fits your style and whether this is a good fit for you.  Listen to how they talk about the company, their manager, the team and how they work together.  Is this an environment in which you can be successful?

Tips to Keep the Interviewer Talking – It is important to have insightful questions prepared to ask each of your interviewers so you can gain valuable insights during the interview process.  Consider asking the following types of questions:

  • What do you like most about working for the company?
  • What are their favorite aspects of their jobs?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • If I were in this position, how would I be evaluated in six months and at the end of the first year?
  • How do you train new hires?
  • What interaction would this position have on a regular basis within the team and across the organization?

While you certainly have to be well prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions, hone your listening skills to give yourself the most critical insights into the new position and the organization.  Developing strong listening skills during your interviews will help you identify the best fit for your future success.