How to make sure your next job does not bring you down

When you’ve applied for a job, and are invited to an interview, you prepare for the questions you might be asked. You think about what they might be looking for, and prepare for what you should highlight in your experience and personality. You look at the job requirements, to decide which of your achievements you want to bring across. You look up tips and tricks on typical questions, and what the smart answers are.

And you’re right. There are numerous things you can (and should) do prepare to present yourself at your best.  It makes sense to increase your chances to land the job you want.

But don’t lose yourself by just focusing on getting that job. It’s even more important to pay attention to what you need from that next job, or the organization, or the culture and colleagues with whom you will spend the majority of your time.

Some people might say, does that really matter? Any job will do. Or, the job is so great, I just want it regardless of who else works there. Or, this company will look so good on my resume.

The problem is: when a job is a bad fit, the negative effects can last for years. Or even sidetrack your career. Over the years, I’ve met several people in a job that was a bad fit, and pretty soon it broke down their confidence and reputation. They often found themselves alone in their opinion, or their approach. Their results started to decline. They lost confidence, but started to work harder to make up for it. The spiral went further downward from there. By the time they finally realized they weren’t able to make it work, they lost the courage to look for something better.

Please, do yourself a favor, and avoid entering this downward spiral. Focus on whether the culture, the colleagues, and the job are really a good fit.

How? During a job interview, pay attention to the following, to decide whether the organization suits you:

  • Read the atmosphere between interviewers. Are they having fun together? Do they truly listen to each other? Give each other space to ask questions?
  • How respectful are the interviewers about the organization, and other (previous) colleagues? Are they competitive? Do you sense silo-thinking between departments? Do they seem engaged in power fights? Are they badmouthing others?
  • How do the interviewers respond when you tell them examples about what you liked in previous managers or companies. Do they roll their eyes? Or do they enthusiastically respond with similar examples of their own?
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early. If you’re lucky, they’ll let you wait in the lobby or a common purpose area where you can observe people interacting with each other. How do the passing employees act with each other? Do people have a smile on their face, or do they all seem cranky, stressed, or otherwise negatively occupied? Can you find interesting inside information in internal company magazines that might be lying around?
  • Ask interviewers about their tenure in their current job. If everyone seems to rotate quickly, check why.

Add questions of your own. Think about the answers, and whether they suit you. Check them against what you need from your next job.

Make sure your next job does not bring you down, but brings you growth, fun and satisfaction instead!

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