Tag Archives: Interview Advice

4 ways to learn about workplace values before you’re hired

Think about the job you disliked the most. Perhaps it was because the work environment was toxic. Maybe you weren’t able to see your children’s events because of the commute home. You weren’t given the autonomy you craved. Or you were working at a dead-end position. The company for which you worked lacked integrity. There are many reasons why employees are dissatisfied with companies for which they work.

Stressed young businessman

The above are examples of how workplace core values are not met. How important are workplace core values? Statistics show that work values are more important than salary, unless earning a high salary is your main core value.

A Harvard Business Review article supports this statement:

“One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company. Among the six workplace factors we examined, compensation and benefits were consistently rated among the least important factors of workplace happiness.”

This brings to question how you ensure that you take a job which meets your core values. Here are four ways to discover the core values employers support, from worse to best.

4. Ask in the interview

This is the worst way to determine the company’s core values, as it may be too late. (It’s always best going into an interview with your eyes wide open.) You can ask the recruiter during the telephone interview.

However, he might not know much about the company’s values, especially if he’s an agency recruiter (not on site). A corporate recruiter would have a better idea of the company’s values; although, not as accurate as a hiring manager’s.

You may be able to ask the question, “Can you tell me a little bit about the company’s core values?” during the interview. But more likely you’d ask this question at the last phase of the interview when they ask if you have any questions for them.

If this is your only opportunity, ask the questions as such: “What are (Company X’s) top three core values?” This is a question that will challenge the interviewers and indicate that you’re serious about working for the company.

3. Comb through company reviews on a site like glassdoor.com

I’m skeptical of a site like Glassdoor. My thought is that disgruntled current or former employees won’t speak objectively about their present or past companies. And, reportedly, some employers have launched paid campaigns to encourage positive reviews.

However, there could be value in this site’s reviews if the they are consistent; if most of them are positive or negative. I looked at two companies, one a nationally known monolith and the other a largish company local to Boston. They were consistently positive in their reviews.

Dell EMC had a whopping 4.3K reviews and a 76% “Recommend to a friend” rating. In terms of pros and cons, work-life balance was the top value mentioned: 507 applauded the work-life balance, whereas 107 trashed the work/life balance.

The other company, Kronos, also did consistently well. Of the 1.3K employees who posted a review, 81% would recommend this company to a friend. Not surprisingly work-life balance was the number one value: 239 favored it; 45 employees saw it as a con.

2. Find someone on LinkedIn who can speak about the company

LinkedIn can be a great tool for finding people who work for your target companies; or better yet, worked for your target companies. It’s important to know how to locate people at said companies. You’re going to get very familiar with LinkedIn’s All Filters feature.

How to use LinkedIn’s All Filters

  1. First click in the Search bar at the top of most pages.
  2. Choose People.
  3. Click on All Filters.
  4. Type in the company name.
  5. Select second degree connection.
  6. Select Current or Past companies.
  7. Choose location.
  8. Scroll down to enter the title of the person you would like to approach.

Second degree connection who works for your target company

If you are a Premium account member (most likely Career), use one of your five Inmails to message someone who shares a common connection with you. You may mention in the first line:

“Hello Susan, you and I are connected with John Schmidt, who encouraged me to reach out to you….”

What if you don’t have a premium account? Go to the person’s Contact Info box on her profile and send her an email. Or, send an invite for quick action. My suggestion is to proceed like you would if you have a premium account in terms of the message you send. Indicate you share a common connection who will vouch for you.

Read this post to learn more about how to properly communicate with a possible connection.

Second degree connection who USED to work for your target company

Job seekers often don’t think of reaching out to someone on LinkedIn who used to work for their target companies. I tell my workshop attendees that these people can be their best online source of information, as they will most likely provide the truth. They have nothing to lose.

Again, if you don’t have a premium account and have to send an invite, it’s best to mention a common connection. Be sure the common connection you mention is amenable to vouching for you. There are many connections who will vouch for me, but there are some who (I hate to admit) I hardly know.

1. Have a mole in the company who will tell you about the company’s values

This is the best way to discover the values your potential employer supports. The person/people you ask, via LinkedIn or in person, are onsite and experience the company’s core values on a daily basis. They can provide intricate details, whereas glassdoor.com and current and former employees on LinkedIn might not be as willing to go into details.

I recall applying for a job that was posted by an employer I was considering working for. I knew someone within the organization who was very open about the company’s culture. She described an environment where management was so abusive toward their employees that people were quitting. Needless to say, I didn’t apply for the job.


Your workplace core values are not to be ignored when applying for positions. They can make the difference between being happy or unhappy. An exercise I have my workshop attendees do is write down their top five values, not an easy task for many. Then I have them narrow it down to three and finally one. Can you identify your top value? I bet it’s not salary.

This post originally appeared in www.job-hunt.org

Photo: Flickr, Reputation Tempe

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3 major Skype interview tips Job Seekers should heed

One of my clients was supposed to have a face-to-face interview, but it was scheduled for a day of a Nor Easter. With the interview an impossibility, what would be a plausible alternative? The answer is simple: the company could conduct a Skype interview. And that is what happened.

for skype

The future of job interviewing may include increasingly more Skype interviews. If you’re a job seeker and haven’t had a Skype interview yet, chances are you’ll have one soon.

Following are important facts and tips concerning this form of interviewing.

Why do companies conduct Skype interviews?

One reason companies use Skype is because it saves time and money. Instead of having job candidates come in for in-person interviews, companies can put the candidates through the drill over computers, tablets, and even smart phones.

An interviewer can see the candidate’s nonverbal clues, such as body language and facial expressions. Does the person come across as relaxed or nervous? Do they maintain eye contact? Do they look and sound enthusiastic? More so than a telephone interview, Skype is more personal.

One of my close connections, Angela Roberge, recruiter and owner of Accurate Staffing, says this about Skype interviews: “We are in the people ‘business,’ so face-to-face interviews (including Skype) can help you assess the candidate on their ability to present themselves.”

A negative aspect of Skype interviews is its use for discriminating against candidates based on their appearance, including age, race, nationality, etc. Unfortunately the isms exists. On the other hand, interviewers are naturally curious and simply want to see a person before inviting them in for an in-person interview.

A nasty trick an interviewer played on one of my career center customers was turning his camera off, while my customer had to keep hers on. He could see her, but she couldn’t see him. My response to this was that she should have ended the interview immediately.

How seriously should you take Skype Interviews?

Do you take pneumonia seriously? This answers the question. In some cases you could be hired after only being interviewed via phone and Skype, particularly if this precludes the need to fly you to meet with someone at the company.

In essence, treat your Skype interview as you would an in-person interview. This means conducting rigorous research on the position, company, and industry/competition. Make sure you’ve memorized your research, as you don’t want to be caught looking to the side at your notes.

Make sure you’re prepared for the difficult questions. A a telephone interview, when the salary question and a rundown of your qualifications to do the job will take place, will most likely precede a Skype interview.

So during the Skype interview you’ll most likely receive behavioral-based and situation questions that will be more challenging. Your response to the answers will have to be delivered as well as if you were in an in-person interview.

As well, your physical reactions will be gauged by the interviewer in terms of your facial expressions and body language. Will you squirm when answering the weakness questions? Or will you answer it with little emotion? Remember, interviewers are watching you.

Logistics of a Skype Interview?

Along with treating the Skype interview seriously, you must make sure your setting and camera are set up for the best possible conversation. As simple as this may sound, improper lighting, sound, and other logistics could blow the interview.

  • Make sure you’re on time for the interview. Discuss with the interviewer who’ll be calling, them or you, and make sure you’re at your computer.
  • Be certain that you’re dressed as if you are attending an in-person interview. Some say you can dress well from your waist up only, but what if you have to get something during the discussion? The fact that you’re wearing pajama bottoms will not bode well.
  • Make sure the connections is strong. I Skyped with a client in St. Lucia and we had to reconnect a number of times. If you have a weak Internet connection, this could cause problems.
  • Your computer’s camera or webcam needs to be eye level; that’s what you’ll be looking at, not the interviewer’s face. Place your laptop on a platform that makes the camera eye-level.
  • Your background should have very little on the wall. Make sure it’s not cluttered, which can say something about your personality or that you were too “busy” to tidy up. As well, your background shouldn’t be bland. Some books in the background are a nice touch.
  • Sound quality is also important. If you’re in an open room, there may be an echo that is quite noticeable. The more objects in the room the better, as long as they’re not visible to the interviewer.
  • Background noise is a no no, just as it is with a telephone interview. Be free of any distractions to you and the interviewer. Your children playing in the other room can be heard, as well as loud outside noise. Often times fire trucks and ambulances ride by my house, so I warn people with whom I’m Skyping of this.
  • Lighting is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a Skype interview. Here are some pointers: Have your laptop facing a window, not behind it. Lamps placed below you will cause an eerie appearance.

Watch this outstanding video of the logistics of a Skype Interview. http://tinyurl.com/zby4u6n


As said earlier, Skype interviews are becoming more common; so you need to be prepared. I suggest you take some time two nights before the interview to set up an account and practice Skyping with a close friend or relative to make sure things go smoothly.

Photo: Flickr, Aleta Pardalis