Are you working in the wrong job?

2017-06-27 13:34

Expand your view from keyhole to panorama by asking the right questions.

Don’t be that believer. Get the right facts about the job.

There is a common joke in the job or recruitment industry about a man who dies and gets the choice to go to heaven or hell.

He spends a day in each and sees that hell is much more fun, observing loads of fun and general happy debauchery. Heaven in contrast is fine, but boring, with harps and chanting and the like. So he chooses hell over heaven. On returning to hell to start his afterlife however, he is greeted by the Devil again and shoved into a torture chamber.

"What's this," he cries, "where are the pleasures I was shown before?!"

"Ah," says the Devil, "that was the interview, now you're on the staff!"

There is so much truth in this story. While usually one hears about companies not adequately screening candidates, the fact remains that job seekers simply do not properly evaluate or even ask questions around some of the most important pieces of a new job: what the job actually entails, information about their future boss, the company culture and how things are done.

Far too often, applicants take job descriptions and short explanations of the position at face value. And true to form, the above joke becomes reality.

So what can an interviewee do to avoid this? In my work with Adzuna, an online job aggregator, as well as my recent MBA thesis, it is very clear (and obvious) that the more information a candidate has, the better they can match themselves to a position.

This is true both when deciding to make an application or accept an offer. Instead of looking at the job through a hole in a wall, climb over the wall and play in the playground! Thus, the natural way to make sure you only accept roles you like, is to ask for more information. Here are some ways you can do so.

Ask to work a trial day at the company

Even if you are a senior level or C-suite employee, working a day at a company can tell you a huge amount about whether or not you want to be there. Most companies are very open to this and will even pay you for the day you work there, especially since it often involves taking leave from your current firm.

You will get to meet the people you will work with, see the layout and setup of your work area, see the interactions between people and generally understand the semantics of what you are setting yourself up for.

Ask more about company culture

The organisations that think deeply about their company culture are more successful - something found in numerous research articles. So what is the real culture of the company you are interviewing at? Does this culture and do their values align with yours? Without knowing this, it’s easy to understand how people take on new jobs that they actually don’t want and won’t like.

Ask your future boss about themselves

In an interview, candidates are often asked about their interests and hobbies, and are encouraged to talk about who they are. Why then do employers not reciprocate? If you are in an interview, make very sure to ask the interviewer what kind of person your future boss is. If the interviewer is in fact that boss, ask them directly how they like to manage, what kind of leadership style they use, what they do in their spare time, etc to get a great feeling for whether or not you want to be working under them.

The pieces of advice above are not rocket science - you should only make a decision on a new job if you have enough information. Too many job seekers just accept based on whether they believe they can do the job and the offer amount, when they have never seen their workstation and know nothing about their future colleagues or superiors.

Make better decisions

Don’t be that believer. Get the facts. Find out what you need to know - your interviewer will gladly answer your questions and you will make better career decisions.

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