More than a quarter of the way through 2018, well over 750,000 jobs have been added to the nation’s payrolls, according to the Labor Department, providing both those out of work and individuals looking for a fresh start with plenty of employment opportunities. Add to that an unemployment rate of 2 percent among managerial-level professionals. Many candidates have taken advantage, and according to data compiled by the ADP Research Institute, between 60 and 70 percent of employee turnover is voluntary.
While job postings provide job seekers with a sneak peek into what a potential employer is all about, it really isn’t until the interview that they get a better view. This sentiment was captured in the 2018 MRINetwork’s Reputation Management Study, where 64 percent of job candidates said the interview process revealed a fair amount to a lot about the company’s culture. Employers subscribe to this belief as well – to a more significant extent – with 3 in 4 saying the interview helped to demonstrate the company’s brand.
Yet, just because interviews are a traditional part of the hiring process doesn’t mean that they will automatically help you learn more about your potential employer’s culture. There are strategies you can use to better tap into its brand so you can determine if it’s a good fit. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Know what you want
Before the interview begins, take a moment and consider the type of workplace culture you’d like to be a part of. For instance, while teamwork is a key component to camaraderie and success, there’s something to be said for independence, where workers are empowered to rely on what they’ve learned and the experience they’ve collected. In short, whatever culture you hope to discover in your job search, determine the ideal before the question-and-answer session ensues.
2. Ask plenty of questions
The interview is primarily thought of as a way the employer learns more about the candidate, but in reality, it’s a two-way street, especially in the candidate-driven labor market that exists in many industries. As such, you should feel free to ask the hiring manager questions that will help give you insight into what the company’s culture is all about. Employers like it when candidates come to the interview with well-thought-out questions, because it demonstrates initiative, engagement and a love of learning.
3. Pay attention to body language
Nonverbal communication is universal, as we all demonstrate various mannerisms and sentiments based on body language. According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll, nearly 70 percent of hiring managers and human resources professionals said failure to make eye contact was one of their biggest body language pet peeves, more so than not smiling (38 percent), or an inability to keep their hands still (36 percent). If an interviewer’s body language suggests they’re uninterested or impersonal, it may be symptomatic of the workplace culture.
4. Look for clues of inclusion
A diverse and inclusive workplace is important to many of today’s workers, Millennials in particular. According to a poll conducted by global communications firm Weber Shandwick, roughly half – 47 percent – of Millennials pointed to diversity and inclusiveness as key characteristics they wanted in a potential employer. This compared to 33 percent of Generation X and 37 percent of Baby Boomers who felt similarly.
5. Ask to meet potential co-workers
Employees serve as the face of a workplace and learning more about them and their personalities can be both revealing and illuminating, personally as well as professionally. Speaking to Fortune, human resources expert Jason Hanold says this somewhat unorthodox question is usually welcomed.
“It shows that you’re doing due diligence, and you’re being selective about your next job,” Hanold explained. “Never forget, you’re interviewing the company every bit as much as they are interviewing you.”
The interview is all about give and take, a delicate dance that fosters discovery and disclosure. Implementing these strategies can help you make the most of question-and-answer sessions so your potential new employers brand rings loud and clear.