My least favorite question in an interview, besides “where do you see yourself in five years?” (because let’s be real, I barely have my day planned out, much less the next five years.) is “do you have any questions for us?” I usually ask the interviewer to describe the corporate culture to me and pray that they think I’m the right fit and vice versa. But, of course, if the work environment was toxic, do you think your prospective employer would actually tell you?
With the rise of outing toxic workplace cultures and unethical business practices, it can be easier than ever to determine if a company creates a hostile work environment for its employees. But, even if the company is ‘nontoxic,’ you may not necessarily fit in or like the business’s practices. Many employees are dubious about onboarding with the next company that extends an offer, especially if they just left a toxic work environment, so what can you ask as an employee to help determine if a company is the right fit for you?
Career strategy coach, job search advisor, and interview consultant, Elissa Shuck, has curated a list of questions to ask to help uncover the leadership style and team culture.
Among my favorites for leadership style questions are:
1. How often do you like to be updated? (project status, challenges, communication)
Matching communication styles is very important. If you like a little more free rein to do your thing, you may not want to work for an employer who’s blowing up your email, texts, or Slack channel every fifteen minutes.
2. How often do you get your team together for collaborations and updates?
Look, we all hate the meetings that could have been an email, but on the other hand, certain tasks just can’t get done unless everyone is on the same page – especially when they require interdepartmental collaboration.
3. If I’m hired what’s the best way I can support your efforts/vision/strategy?
Knowing how you fit in and how your talents can be best utilized is key.
4. What is your approach on the professional development of your team?
You want to grow professionally, and it’s important to know which companies offer professional development, and access to good, free professional development can be part of the benefits package along with a 401k, retirement, and generous PTO.
Now, you and your prospective boss may see eye to eye, but will you fit in with the team? Knowing how your prospective teams operate and how you fit into the equation could make or break your experience at the company.
My favorite team culture questions are:
1. What’s the most common form of communication between team members?
I like texting since I can’t keep refreshing my inbox 1,000 times a day. Plus, I hate when something’s urgent and someone takes all day (or longer!) to reply to your emails. Personally, I think expecting employees to keep up with Slack, Discord, email, and texts, AND blowing them up daily is too much. I’d rather have one central method of communication, but if you like the chaos, you do you!
2. What was the most recent team accomplishment?
If teams can’t accomplish much together, then that’s a sign that there is a greater issue within the team or leadership, and that’s a red flag. I’d run, not walk, if they can’t name a single team accomplishment.
3. How long have you been on the team?
Many companies suffer from a high turnover rate with their employees. This, again, is a symptom of a larger problem at play. Conversely, there could be multiple new hires – a sign that the company is growing quickly – which means that there is a lot of potential for growth or upwards promotion within the company! And finally, If I’m hired, what’s the best way I can support the team [efforts, vision, strategy]?
You’re a star, and you deserve to be in a team or with a company that allows you to shine, and aligns with your efforts. At the end of the day, they may be a great company or a great team but you might not be the right fit, and that is perfectly okay!
Employers, be prepared for candidates to ask these questions, and be prepared to answer them, after all, it’s better for everyone in the long run if you get an employee that’s the right fit the first time! Perspective employees, do not be afraid to ask these questions in your next interview. The right company won’t mind answering them and now, more than ever, since it’s an employee’s job market!
This article only served as the abridged version of an important post, by an expert in the job searching industry. Please go and check out the full post and for those jobseekers, good luck on your next interview, I hope you find the perfect fit soon!
Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for
(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.
It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.
Don’t be this employer
User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.
Don’t obfuscate wage information
Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.
3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)
(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.
The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.
Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.
Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).
Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.
Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.
Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.
So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.
How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization
(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?
Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.
Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.
Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.” Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.
There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.
What we want to do:
- Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
- Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
- Distribute the work equitably.
Here is a simple example:
Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.
Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.
For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.
Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.
Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.
Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.
You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs. According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.
*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.
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