There are lots of resources on the internet to help you ace an interview. It’s much more difficult to find a resource that helps you determine if a company is the right fit.
During this time last year, I did 20-25 interviews for 8 companies varying in size, location, and prestige. I’ve been reflecting on the process and how I would change the way I approached those interviews.
One change I’d definitely make would be to take a closer look at each company’s hiring and onboarding practices and what that could tell me about what it might look like to work there.
1. Analyze the Company’s Hiring Process
There are many moving parts within an interview process; most companies conduct multiple interviews with different styles and structures. What I didn’t realize was that the interview process itself says something about the company. Each part of that process is an intentional choice, and it can give you insight into the company, its culture, and the way they approach bringing people into their organization.
What kind of interview is it?
I recently read an article from Penn State’s Career Resources page about different types of interviews and the purpose behind each one. It helped me understand why a company may choose to do a three-person panel interview as their first step versus a group interview, or why some companies do case study interviews and some don’t.
The article uses the example of companies conducting a panel interview because: “it shows how you interact with a variety of people and it provides an opportunity for all the interviewers to discuss their perspectives on your performance.” In addition, a panel interview (which we do at Atomic) may communicate that the company wants someone who can thrive in a collaborative work setting.
Who is conducting the interview?
Another important part of the process is who is conducting the interview. It may be a business manager, a technical manager, or even someone who is working in the role you would be in.
For example, if those conducting interviews are mainly from upper-level management, this may communicate a more vertical organizational structure that doesn’t place as much responsibility or trust in their individual contributors. While this may be encouraging for someone looking to quickly ascend the ranks of a company, it may not be ideal for someone who doesn’t aspire to be in a management role.
Evaluating these decisions can give an inside look at what a company values and what it’s looking for, helping you better understand if it’s a good long-term fit for you.
2. Ask Questions About Onboarding
I’m grateful for the intentionality and thought that Atomic puts into its onboarding process. Throughout my first few months, they made sure to provide a healthy balance of support when I need it and complex work to make sure I was growing my skill set.
I have talked to many friends who began jobs at the same time, and their onboarding experiences were all over the place. Some had lots of time to ease into their role before working on a specific project. Others were thrust into a forty-hour workweek on a project with little support.
For some, the idea of jumping right into work may sound nice, while a slower onboarding with more training and practice may be best for others. It’s important to know what will be best for your work style and if your employer can provide it.
I don’t recall asking about onboarding during any of my interviews, but I should have. I think every interviewee should ask specific questions about the onboarding process. What is their timeline? What steps have they taken to adapt that process in this new remote work environment? The answers to these questions will indicate if the company values onboarding and is constantly trying to improve it.
Interviews can and should be a great learning experience for both parties. It’s important to spend time preparing to impress the interviewer. But it’s equally important to learn about the company and what its employees’ work experience is like.