In my previous post, I stressed on why it is crucial for you to put your next job under the microscope and as a natural next step, I am here to tell you how to go about doing just that! Recently, I think about a month back, new hires in my office had a quizzical expression on their faces when they managed to get a peek through the glass window into one of our conference rooms. I was sitting there and playing this easy to crack board game with a potential hire that I was interviewing. Both the candidate and I stepped out looking relaxed and almost content. Did he land the job? No, but he already knew that the particular role wasn’t for him and I knew he wasn’t the guy for the role either. The end result was a win-win for the both of us!
This is the power of the “interview your next job,” framework, which has helped many of my friends and myself in landing great jobs as well as helped us recruit the right person for a job too.
As more companies move away from clichéd questions and predictable interview formats, there is now a greater opportunity for candidates to turn the tables on the company! As a candidate, you can now place the company and your future job under the microscope in the run up to the interview and during the interview itself.
Here’s the tried and tested framework for hacking your next interview (Disclaimer:Make Google your new your best friend!)
Understand the assets
Think of this as going through the health records of a company. The three main aspects to understand here are Market, People and Finances.
Market: Learn about the characteristics such as size of the present market, potential markets, competitors, any red flags such as how the company performed during volatile market conditions. Marketing guru Philip Kotler’s all important product, place, price, promotion are great indicators of the health of a company. Once you study these four Ps you will understand if a company, especially if a startup is sustainable. What’s the point of loving the job that you do and loving the culture and people, if nine months down the line, there is no job!
People: Try and find out about the organizational culture before and during the interview. Does the company have an open office culture or cubicle culture? What are the opinions of leaders within the organization on various topics? Ask if you see yourself fitting in with the culture.
Finance: Is the company really financially stable? How are customers reacting to its product or service pricing? Finding out about the company’s financial health gets easier if the company is publicly listed. Ask how the company stock is doing. Find out how investors feel about the shares they own.
Your sources: Company website, leading business publications, company’s blog posts and social media platforms. Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are great help too.
Study the structures
When it comes to researching the structure of an organization, it isn’t just about learning if the organization has a flat, horizontal or a vertical one. In most cases, if you are applying to a large organization there are bound to be hierarchical structures within various departments. To effectively hack your interview, you need to go a level deeper and research about expectations, governance, and entity.
Expectation: How good is this organization in terms of communicating news and setting expectations? For instance, employees of Apple and its other stakeholders know when they are working on a big release. Does the company talk about its long and short term plans? If an organization is not willing to disclose too much information, then it may be safe to assume two alternatives. Either the organization is working on a huge project that they want to keep under wraps or something is probably amiss. When it comes to finding out which case is actually true, my guess is as good as yours!
Governance: Research on aspects like ethical image, regulating organizations and CSR activities while studying the governance. What sort of ethical image does the company have? Is it important for you that the organization you work with has strong corporate social responsibility (CSR)activities? Have there been any major lawsuits the company has been involved in? What bodies regulate/govern your company or is the organization accredited. These aspect tell you about the credibility of the organization.
Entity: If there are hierarchies in the organization, try and understand the levels. This may give you a clue about how accessible the top management is.
Your sources:Any marketing collateral you can get you hands on. Read the news – there is a high probability that you will stumble upon relevant information about the organization’s governance and entity.
Get behind the processes
The three main elements that you need information about are:Strategy,Operations and Execution. In most cases, you may not find information on a company’s website. You could however get some hints about aspects such as strategy and operations through the organization’s website. This is where you get to interview your interviewer. Ask questions about what a typical day at the organization looks like, ask your interviewer(s) about how your role fits into the company’s long term strategy.
Your Sources: The interviewers!
While it is understandable that you will not be able to find our every single detail using this framework, I guarantee you that any knowledge you gain by using this framework will be invaluable before, during, and after the interview. The purpose of this article is not to tell you that you will not be put under the microscope, but to surprise the interviewer with what he/she discovers while interviewing you! Best of luck with your next job interview!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!