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Finding Culture Fit: Interviewing your Interviewer

Plenty of articles are written about employers recruiting for culture fit, but it's harder to find advice from the other side of the table. It is just as difficult for you to get a taste of company culture in a short series of interviews as it is for them to evaluate your technical skills and social fit with the team. However, figuring out early whether a company's values align with yours can save you months, or even years, of tension and frustration on the job. The hardest part comes down to __asking the right questions__ (without sounding pushy) and deciphering the sometimes-nebulous answers! Here's an example of a telling exchange: > __Candidate: "How does your company value work-life balance?"__ > __Interviewer: "Well, we get evenings and weekends off, if that's what you mean!"__ (after sending the candidate a follow-up email at 11pm the night before) __Translation:__ No, getting evenings and weekends off is not what you meant. Listen for concrete, meaningful examples of how a company either lets their employees strike a balance and recharge outside of work, or how they work employees into the ground. Other tips? Try to make contact with employees who are in similar roles, or even on the same team as the position you're targeting. They will often give the unfiltered truth and do not have to worry about the implications of communicating through an HR channel. You can also ask probing questions about whether or not the person you're talking to values spending time with his/her coworkers outside of work. Once you find a good culture fit, you'll reap the benefits of a positive, upward career spiral.

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What Not to Say at a Recruiting Event: Perspective from the Other Side of the Table

Over the summer, I said yes to a last-minute volunteering opportunity to represent Hyland at a recruiting event. It was a typical set-up, with a couple of us manning a booth and triaging a stream of job seekers, people generally interested in tech, and even some mayoral candidates (no, I'm not kidding). I had always followed the canned advice of how to behave at a recruiting fair as a candidate (look presentable, have copies of your resume handy, etc.), but being on the other side of the table reinforced why this kind of advice is repeated so often. My colleague and I were both developers representing the company. Since we didn't have titles on our name badges, people approached us as if we were in HR. To me, that would've meant they would try to make a good impression. However, I got quite the grab bag of strange interactions with people. It may come as a shock to you, but the following are some behaviors that are repulsive to recruiters (or just enthusiastic volunteers like me): - __Standing Too Close:__ Personal space is important. Enough said. - __Personal Hygiene:__ Closely related to the above point, make sure you shower since you'll be in close proximity to people making decisions about your livelihood. - __Overly-Aggressive Elevator Pitches:__ The employee on the other side of the table is a person, too. They want to have a conversation, not to be talked at. - __Poor Preparation:__ The most frustrating question to hear is something that is easily Googleable..."What does this OnBase, wait - is it called Hyland - company do?" will not make you stand out as a candidate. - __Not Asking Questions:__ On a related note, recruiting fairs are the time to ask those questions that you can't get through stalking, I mean, researching the company! Taking the time to ask thoughtful questions goes a looooooong way. - __Approaching the Booth and Saying Absolutely Nothing:__ Recruiters don't want to painfully struggle to string along a conversation that's dying. They'd go on a blind date for that. You should drive the interaction with good questions about the position you think you'd be the best fit for. A conversation has ended poorly if it closes with the recruiter saying "I'm not sure, but you can feel free to expore our current postings online and apply!" On a final note: recruiters' mailboxes are probably teeming with messages from eager candidates, but people who don't have to make hiring decisions (me, me!) can be a great source of information and, if you're lucky, give you the unfiltered truth about a company's culture, work/life balance, day-in-the-life, and the answers you're really looking for. Grab the low-hanging fruit of making that cold "call" on'd be suprised who bites and how much intel you'll gain.

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