Smoke & Mirrors: 3 ways to see a job clearly during the interview process

 “If we told every candidate what it was really like to work here, no one would accept our offer.”

This is what a director-level candidate recently told me he heard from a leader at the company he left after a short stint on the job. Needless to say, he was shocked: he was so starry-eyed and focused on demonstrating all the things he could do for the company that he overlooked several warning signs during the interview process.

How do you make sure you’re seeing a clear and accurate picture of the role before accepting the job? These three tips may seem obvious, but in the height of selling yourself, remember to pay attention to your surroundings.

Meet the team: In addition to meeting a few key people during the interview process, try to get a meeting with other team members. If you’re leading the team, you may not have the opportunity to meet all (or even some) of your direct reports, but ask for a couple of peers to be included in the line-up. When meeting peers, you have the opportunity to get the perspective of others at your level to include their experience with leadership, communications and company values.

See the space where you will be working: In small offices or start up situations, the space may be shared or borrowed. Spaces also change. But know what you’re walking into at the beginning so you can have appropriate expectations from day one. Seeing how people work and interact in their space gives another perspective to evaluate before saying yes.

Ask the right questions so you can be part of the solution: What does success look like in the first 90 days? Six months? Year? The more clearly this question can be answered, the more likely you are able to evaluate if you’re the one that can accomplish the mission at hand. Don’t settle for vague answers. If you can’t be sure what’s expected of you, see if you can hammer out a few details with your future boss before a final offer is accepted. If approached as being part of the solution, it can only solidify a happy start for both of you.

Are you a leader at a company and found yourself thinking or saying something like the person at the beginning of this post? Stay tuned for Part 2!