You’ve finally landed an interview for your dream job. You’ve studied the company history, prepped your responses to the top interview questions, and even snuck a quick peek at the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile. But job applicants often forget the job search is a two-way street. Knowing what you want out of an employer is equally as important as ticking all the boxes on a job posting.
Ideally, your dream job should meet more than your salary and benefits goals. Your prospective employer should also compliment who you are as a person, speak to what drives your success, and provide you with the tools you need to advance in your career. That’s why identifying your core needs before interviewing is key to ensuring your professional goals are met once you’ve been hired.
More importantly, doing your due diligence will save you the headache and disappointment of course correcting down the road. Or worse, having to start the job hunt all over again, putting a blemish on your resume.
Below, we identify three ways to tell if your dream job is really a good fit for you or better left in the stars.
Your Core Values Align with The Company’s Core Values
As Kristi Hedges, Senior Leadership Coach and President of the Hedges Company notes, “Culture determines how work gets done, but values show how companies prioritize, make decisions, and reconcile conflict.”
Cultivating the perfect corporate culture has been the focal point of HR execs and talent scouts for decades in their pursuit of top talent. But it’s often oversold to job applicants as the cure-all for job dissatisfaction. On the other hand, a company's values are the guiding principles that dictate codes of conduct and are often much harder to fluff. They encompass things like honesty, integrity, service, and trust, to name a few.
Suppose you value working for a company with a strong stance on environmental protection, for example. In that case, you may not want to work for an employer with a reputation for sidestepping EPA regulations. Compromising on minor things may be doable in the short term, but not sharing your employer’s core values, in the long run, will inevitably lead to trouble.
Hedges recommends using this “Values Focused Interview Plan” to assess your prospective employer’s core values below:
Identify three to five values most important to you before your interview. These are your non-negotiables. You can’t know what you won’t tolerate until you’ve identified the values you aren’t willing to compromise on.
Compile a list of questions that will reveal the values the company honors. These questions should be open-ended and used as benchmarks to compare to your values. Examples include “What kind of behaviors are not tolerated here?” and “Who has done well in a similar role to this one, and what makes them a high achiever?”
Rate your interview immediately after it concludes. Immediately after the conclusion of the interview, rate your values on a scale from one to five, with one being “values not mentioned at all” and five being “values were exemplified and modeled by this company.”
Current and Past Employees Give High Reviews
You probably wouldn’t want to eat at a restaurant with one star, right? The same should apply to working for a company whose employees are less than enthusiastic about reporting to work every day. One or two complaints are typical, but if everyone is complaining, that should be cause for alarm.
Before you interview, visit company review websites like CareerBliss and Glassdoor. This will give you the chance to get the inside scoop on things like benefits and work-life-balance from past and current employees. Employee reviews can also clue you in on the presence or absence of career advancement opportunities. Keep in mind, though, that just like a restaurant review, employees are much more apt to report negative experiences than positive ones.
To validate these claims, consider reaching out to current employees on LinkedIn. Ask them questions like “What attracted you to the company or What keeps you here?” or “Do you feel like your expectations are actively being met?” Online reviews may be jaded (or dated), but asking employees directly will give you important real-time feedback. This information could prove helpful during the application process.
The Workplace Environment Caters To Your Productivity Style
Finally, knowing your productivity style is key to determining where you fit in your dream job’s culture and work ethos. Do you prefer collaborative teamwork or working solo? Do you enjoy the challenges that come with fast-paced, high-growth agencies, or do you like the slow and steady pace of established corporations? Answering these questions will help you decide if your dream job on paper matches your optimal workplace success conditions.
Even if you’re working from home, noting what kind of managerial style you like (i.e., hands-on or mostly independent) will help you weigh all the pros and cons of the prospective employer’s selling points before accepting a job offer.
Job seekers often forget that interviewing is a two-way street. Ensuring your professional needs are met is equally as important as ticking all of the boxes on a job posting. Before your interview, do your due diligence, identify your core values, research employee reviews, and identify your productivity style. Having a clear idea of what you need from a future employer will keep you from accepting a job offer that may look good on paper, but it isn’t the right match in everyday application.