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June 30, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Don’t forget to interview the company and hiring manager

Most people believe job interviews are about candidates proving they’re the best fit for the position. As a former hiring manager turned career coach, I think it’s actually a two-way street, because they’re also about candidates making sure the company (and manager) will be a good fit for them.

When you go on an interview, are you interviewing the company? If not, maybe it’s time you started.

Going into an interview realizing that you (the job seeker) need to make sure the company and hiring manager will be a good fit for you can also help reduce some of the typical interview jitters and nervousness. That’s because it requires you to focus on observing things, which helps keep your emotions in check and forces you to think rationally about what you’re seeing (and hearing). Try these tips:

Observe your surroundings. From the time you arrive, take mental notes of what you see and hear. What does the office space look like? Is it clean and neat? Is it formal or casual? Are the  employees friendly and immediately helpful?

Observe the company culture. Once you’re inside, take a look at the office culture. Do employees look happy and hard-working? Are they dressed casually or in business attire? Is the work environment open cubicles or offices with doors? Is the office quiet or fairly loud?

Observe the hiring managers. Are they prepared for your interview? How do they act when they greet you? If they walk you from the lobby to their office or a conference room, how do they behave when passing other employees? Are they prepared with a list of questions? Do they have your resume and the job description handy?

Jot down some notes. Go somewhere right after your interview, such as a coffee shop, and write down everything you can remember about the interview. For example, what did you observe about the office? The employees? The hiring manager? What questions were you asked during your interview? Based on what you saw (and heard), how would you describe the company culture?

Evaluate your observations. Go through your notes and consider what you saw and heard. Does your personal style fit well with the company and hiring manager? Are there any potential issues that stand out? Can you picture yourself working at that company? For that manager?

Reviewing your answers will give you a good idea whether the company and hiring manager would be a good fit for you. Taking the time for observation and evaluation will help you make better choices as you consider your job opportunities.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Your Career, Your Way! Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career advancement, career change, interviewing, job search, returning to the workforce

Blog contributors

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

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