When young people go in for interviews there’s one thing that they always forget. And it’s got nothing to do with polishing your shoes or witty anecdotes about showing commercial awareness. No, people always forget that an interview is not just about a company seeing if you’re a good fit. It’s about seeing if the company is a good fit for you too.
There’s a number of ways you can figure this out. Which is why when you go for an interview, you should always be keeping your eyes peeled for things that give away a company’s culture. According to Quartz, a telltale sign is the office environment. The surroundings that a company provides are a major part of ensuring happiness and productivity in the workplace. So what should you be looking for? Here are a few dead giveaways…
Keep an eye out for community when you walk in the door
What can you pick up from being in the reception you say? Why, everything! Are people chatting to the receptionist? Does the bulletin board look like it’s been regularly updated? All these things suggest a sense of community and solidarity.
A neat little test is to accept the inevitable tea or coffee the interviewing manager will offer you, then see if they make it themselves or get their assistant to do it. That’ll instantly tell you if the place you’re at has a hierarchical structure or if it’s a more even playing field.
The kitchen will tell you everything you wanted to know about office politics
An organised kitchen suggests a respectful work environment. One where chaos reigns implies there’s a war going on. People are more likely to clean up their own messes if they feel comfortable enough with their work life to do so.
If you see a whole bunch of broken appliances, chances are the bosses aren’t looking after the small things that keep workers happy. Beware of the passive-aggressive fridge note too – often a window into what office interpersonal relationships are like.
Looking for respect? You might find it in the bathroom
Odd one, but hear us out. Try and see if you can creep to the bathroom before you go in. As with the kitchen, you can tell if employees have pride for their company by the way they treat the facilities. If you see a ‘Please remember to flush the toilet after use’ sign, just know that something has to have gone down for that to be necessary. And it probably wasn’t an isolated incident. 👀🙈
Workspaces will tell you who’s happy
Sneak a peek into the offices themselves if you can. Is it an open office vibe or are they all in cubicles? Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so keep a careful watch. Pay a bit of mind to people’s desks too. Personalisation is a good sign. If people bring in decorations, photos and accessories, it implies that the office environment is one in which they feel comfortable being themselves.
Communal spaces should cater for everyone
A crucial aspect of any workplace should be that it has some space that’s not for work. No matter how nice a workspace is, it’s nowhere near healthy to be in an office all the time. The best places to work have breakout spaces that allow you to get away from your desk for a little bit. Table tennis and foosball tables tend not to guarantee office camaraderie unless you’ve got a sweet league table like we have at Debut HQ.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what kind of environment is right for you. But make sure you keep a sharp eye out for these little hints in a workplace. They could just save your professional life.