Interviewing Strategies - Do I Fit the Company?

Debra Lea Thorsen


When you are interviewing for a new job, it is often difficult to tell if you are a good fit with a company. Often times, employees will put on their game faces and act happy even if that is not the entire story. And fitting in with a company's culture is imperative for getting ahead there and enjoying the corporate game. Many of my coaching clients like the work they do, but do not enjoy the work environment in which they do it. So, how do you tell if it is going to be a good fit?

Here are 5 questions that I recommend asking everyone that you meet within your prospective company:

1. What is the company's purpose?

If you ask five different people this question and get similar answers, then you can get a good idea of the company's purpose. You can then compare it to your personal purpose and mission statement and see if there is a good fit. If you haven't written your purpose or mission statement, now is a good time to write a Personal Purpose and Mission Statement.

If you ask five different people what the company purpose is and you get five completely different answers, then this should be a red flag. Interpreting this information will require you to use your intuition, because it could mean many things.

It could mean that the leadership of the company does not communicate effectively and clearly. It could mean that the only purpose of the company is to make money and the other purposes are secondary. It could mean that there is a lack of leadership in the company. What do you think this means?

2. What is the mood of the company?

Ask people what is the mood of the company. This might take a little explaining, but you can get some valuable information from these answers.

Places, organizations, days, and times of day all have moods. You may notice that Monday morning and Friday afternoon have different moods. Also note that New York City has a different mood than the Bahamas. If you work for a company, you may notice that there is a certain mood that permeates the organization.

Moods are contagious. If you spend 40 plus hours working in a company, chances are that you will begin to absorb the mood of the company at some point. This is great if your company's mood is one of excitement or ambition. Not so great if your company's mood is one of resignation or frustration.

3. What are the values of the company?

As with the first question on purpose, you should get similar answers from everyone that you ask. Maybe not the same exact words, but the flavor of the responses should be similar. And watch out for cliché's like "superior customer service" and "being the world class supplier of technology solutions". Also, pay attention to the emotional responses and body language of the people you ask this question. Do their emotions and body language seem in sync with their answers?

What you want to know is, "Are the values of this company in alignment with my values?" They don't need to be identical. But, there will be problems if they are in conflict with your values. If you aren't clear on your personal values, now is a good time to clarify your values.

4. How would you characterize the leadership style of the CEO?

There are lots of leadership styles in the business world today. They run the continuum from command-and-control leadership to collaborative. The CEO's leadership style will set the tone for the whole organization. It doesn't necessarily mean that if the CEO has a command-and-control style your immediate boss will, but you will know what it takes to succeed and thrive at this company.

If you learn that the CEO is a real command-and-control type and you are comfortable being part of a hierarchy, then no problem. But, if you are a free spirit who likes a lot of independence, this might be a red flag.

5. Do the leaders at this company walk their talk?

You might not get a straight answer on this one, but it is definitely worth asking. One of the biggest issues that I find in companies is leaders who say one thing and do something else.

Before you go on the interview, spend some time envisioning the work environment in which you will thrive. What does an optimal work day look like? The clearer and more detailed your picture is the better. With a clearer picture of what you are looking for, you can view the company you are interviewing with a discerning eye.

Debbie Thorsen is a certified coach who helps people reframe problems and situations in a positive way so that action and learning is possible. She often sees new and exciting opportunities where her clients feel hopeless and stuck. She support her clients as they reconnect with their hearts, shift the way the view themselves and the world, and move courageously forward to create a life of love and happiness. Debbie can be reached at coach@corporaterebels.com