Interviews are not only a chance for the hiring manager to get to know you but also an opportunity for you to evaluate the company. Whether you’re actively interviewing or preparing to switch jobs down the road, below are some ways to determine if the role will be a good fit for you.

Observe the Little Things

If your interview location is at your future potential office, ask for a tour of the place. Make a mental checklist of the following items:

The physical layout:

  • Note if it is an open floor plan, if there are cubicles, or perhaps it is based out of a co-working space. Are office doors closed or open? Would you have the privacy needed to work efficiently yet not feel isolated?
  • Is there enough natural light for you?
  • Are cubicles, offices, or workspaces personalized?
  • Are there common areas where coworkers congregate?
  • Do you notice any food perks? See if there are vending machines, free coffee, or even a stocked kitchen.

The culture:

  • Do people eat lunch at their desks or take a break together?
  • What are employees wearing?
  • Are there casual conversations in the hallways or are people stressed?
  • Do coworkers respect each other? If there is a receptionist, do people greet him or her with a smile?
  • How do employees answer the phone - are they engaged and happy or on autopilot?

Try to get a feel for how everyone interacts with each other and the overall energy of the place. You want to work at a company where the employees are busy but not overwhelmed. If you see people sitting around doing nothing or frantically running around with frowns on their faces, it could be a red flag. You can pick up on the subtle inner workings of the organization just by taking a minute to soak in your surroundings.

Ask Questions

Determine what’s important to you in your next job and ask for concrete examples about the culture and role. Hiring managers typically leave time to answer questions at the end of the interview, so take advantage of this.  

You’re likely to talk to a few different people over the course of your interview process. Take this opportunity to gain insight from employees at different levels of the company to gauge culture and employee satisfaction.

If you're speaking with an executive or co-founder:

  • How has the company changed over time and where do you see it going in the next few years?
  • What personalities excel here? Do you have advice on how to succeed?
  • How often does the company or team meet as a whole?
  • How do you ensure a culture of transparency? Of feedback?

If you're speaking with a manager or supervisor:

  • How is success measured and recognized?
  • How would you describe your management style?
  • Why is this role open - are you growing the team or did the previous employee leave? What’s the company’s turnover rate?
  • What’s the typical career trajectory, and are there opportunities for professional development?

If you're speaking with someone you'd be working alongside with:

  • Are there activities offered outside of the office?
  • Do you have friends on the team?
  • Can you walk me through your typical day?
  • Why did you choose this opportunity over other jobs?

Remember that the hiring managers will try to portray the company in the best light possible, so meaty questions like these will help you gain a more realistic view of the role. You want to gather as much information as possible to help with your decision later if they end up extending an offer to you.

Consider the Entire Interview Process

How hiring managers treat their candidates is telling of how they treat their employees. Did they value your time, have clear next steps, and keep you informed? If you completed a case study or whiteboarding exercise, did you enjoy it or find it tedious? They chose the assignment for a reason, and it’s most likely indicative of what you’d be doing on the job. Lastly, can you see yourself getting along with your manager and coworkers? They will be putting on their best faces during an interview so if you pick up on any friction, that’s probably a bad sign.

Interviewing shouldn’t be one-sided; you need to judge the experience and see if you can envision yourself being happy at the company, on the team, and in the specific role. Here’s to finding a job that excites you!