It’s not just about you - an organization must fit a candidate, just as a job candidate’s skills and qualification fit that job.
A good way to pick up on clues about how an organization’s culture will fit YOU is to look for little hints as well as big red flags. Think of it a being a secret shopper for your own professional purposes.
Big red flags would include asking questions that are illegal or inappropriate. These include questions about your age or your family size or composition of your household. Any and all conversations should surround the job and it’s functions.
Say you walk into an office for an interview and you are ignored, treated rudely or worse still, no one knows why you are there! These are clear indications of what it would be like to be employed there. You deserve better. It’s not simply a matter of good manners, it’s a matter of professionalism.
What are the people like who interact with you when in the actual interview situation? Are they kind and attentive to your answers? Are you given the opportunity to ask questions, and have a real dialogue about the role and what is expected? Don’t forget, you are trying on an organization, just as they are trying on you. Do you feel collegiality or indifference? Pay attention to how you are treated, and what words are used.
Are you meeting the right people? A thorough and complete interview process should consist of more than one contact. Depending on the role, it might be appropriate to meet deans, the provost, or even more university leaders. For staff roles, you should meet people from across campus, not just within the department.
A good question to ask in any interview for any position is, “What does success look like in this role?” This is not a question that should surprise your committee! And it deserves a clear answer, with quantifiable goals. That can mean 30, 60 and 90-day expectations, or a number of classes taught, recruitment events attended, or something similar.
You deserve to learn as much about them as they do about you!
Kimberley Sirk is a North Carolina-based writer and editor with government, higher education and big-brand healthcare public relations and marketing experience.
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