By Tom Cooper
The interview process is a bit like a blind date: you're trying to look your best, and so is the employer! However, a bad new job is a lot worse than a bad date.
The last thing you need in your next job is to fail. Or, to end up working for an employer or in an organization that is a bad fit for you. If you fail or hate the job, you could be hunting for a new job too soon.
Don't make the mistakes I made! Lessons I learned when I accepted a bad job offer (and how I could have avoided it).
Many years ago I was working for an employer who was very demanding, and I was getting burned out. I began to look for alternative employment. I needed the new job to offer me:
I was ecstatic when I found a job which met all those criteria. Little travel was required, and I could leverage my technical skills and grow, too. The boss seemed like a genuine guy with whom I had a real connection. On top of all of that, they offered me a NICE raise. I could not wait to get started!
On my first day, I got an indication that the company and I were not a good match. I learned that a reorganization had been in the works when they offered me the job. I no longer had the same responsibilities as I expected. I also had a different boss, and fewer tools to do my work. They had not mentioned these changes to me.
Then, I discovered through their actions and policies that this company fundamentally hated their customers. That was a deal breaker. I have always loved my customers. Customers make it possible for me to eat, and I like to eat. I knew that I had to leave. I simply could not live with myself working for a company like that.
After a few weeks, I knew that I had to leave. What had happened? How could I have gone from ecstatic to depressed about work in a matter of weeks? The answer is that there was a huge disconnect between my personal values (honesty, integrity and customer satisfaction) and the values of the company.
How did I get there? Check that list above. Which of my requirements related to corporate values? The only one on the list is the one about the boss, and it's really pretty vague, isn't it?
Here are 3 key questions to help you determine if you and the employer are compatible
Take some time to figure out what really matters to you. Think about it - what you liked and hated in your last job(s). What is important to you in that next job? What do you want to avoid in that next job?
If you need a starting point, review this worksheet of personal values to see which things you really care about. Go through the list and put a check mark next to the ones that resonate with you. Go through the checked ones a second time and pull out the top 5 - in order. That final 5 defines your values.
Once you know what *you* care about, take a look at the new employer. What do they value? Research online can provide you with good information:
Online research is only one part of the process.
During the interview process, they are assessing you, and it’s smart for you to be assessing them, too. Your time with the hiring manager, HR, and the team members is your opportunity to learn about them, their values, and the company’s values.
Here are a few questions to help you figure out the values of a potential employer:
These are the kind of questions that will help you understand what kind of a working environment you would be entering – what is valued and how great performance is defined.
Read 50 Good Questions to Ask in Job Interviews for more ideas.
Learn from my experience, and start with your personal values. If the new employer isn’t a good fit for you, you won’t stay long, and you won’t succeed while you are there. Employers are leery of "job hoppers" so this situation will make your next job search a bit more challenging, too, as you carefully explain why you are leaving a new job so soon without trashing that current employer.