I can’t stress this enough; GET A TOUR OF THE WORKPLACE!
It’s crucial. As part of the interview, the tour of the work place reveals the real company, not the one the hiring manager told you about.
You’ll hopefully get to see the people, the equipment and hardware they use, the breakout/lunch/chill-out rooms, the office space, the vibe, the buzz/hum of the office and the general look and feel.
Take the chance to speak to people whilst on the tour.
Say “Hi”, ask questions and draw attention to things that interest you. Ask for someone to talk you through the business process and ask about who does what. Ask to meet some people from other departments too.
The tour is a chance to really explore whether this company is where you want to be. I appreciate not everyone will have the luxury of choosing whether a work place is right for them, but if you do have that luxury then use the tour to help make up your mind.
I once took a job after being interviewed in a special meeting room located off the main reception area. It was nice, clean, simple, elegant and tidy. I was impressed.
I then started working there. On my first day I went through the big double doors to the real workplace and was shocked by what I saw. There were ceiling tiles hanging off, ancient computers, contractors sat around on fat cat wages playing Solitaire. There were holes in the floor, holes in the walls, and holes in the ceiling. There were broken coffee machines, broken computers, broken lights and broken souls. I didn’t even have a computer for the first two days. It took me a further two days just to get a login to the intranet. What a disaster. I left after just eight days, three of which were spent trying to find someone to hand my notice in to. I learned a very valuable lesson from that job – always get a tour.
If they can’t or won’t do a tour think hard about whether this is the place for you – after all, what are they hiding?
The tour can give you insights, can help you relate to where you may be working and can help you to appreciate the context in which you will be expected to operate. Keep your eyes peeled for:
- Hardware and equipment.
- Proximity of employees to each other.
- Working environment (cleanliness, tidiness, etc).
- Facilities such as drinks areas and food.
- People’s faces (happy, sad, stressed, bored)
- Volume (is it deathly quiet or loud and boisterous – which do you prefer?)
- Look and feel (new, old, well kept, invested in?)
I think most people will get a good or bad feel for a place immediately. It can be a real deal breaker.
Remember though that you’ve only seen a snapshot of a work place. A snapshot in time where people may be working to meet a tight deadline or simply having a bad day. What you see may not be the norm, but I suspect you’ll get a gut feel about the place that should inform your decision.