A job-seeker is in a tricky position. You've got to get a job, and it's easy for your bossy left brain to take over and try to silence your trusty gut. So you're sitting in an interview with a supervisor, and your gut is screaming, "This guy is a toad! You could never work for this guy!" while your bossy left brain keeps repeating, "You need a job. Shut up, gut."
I am always happy when I hear from job-seekers who say, "I really need a job, but I need my self-esteem even more, so I turned down a craptastic job offer today." I'm sad to hear from people who tell me, "I wish I had listened to my gut before I took this job six months ago. Now, I'm so mojo-depleted that I don't even have the mental energy to launch a new job search."
If we had a written checklist of cultural items to review and evaluate for every job opportunity we encounter, we'd have a way to test what our gut is telling us against what our brain is saying. So, I made up this list of 10 items that I've found to be very loud signals about what a company (or not-for-profit agency, or institution) is going to be like to work for. The next time you have a job interview, use this quiz afterwards to grade the employer. You don't want to work among people who don't get you. If they don't get you, they don't deserve you!
Does This Job Deserve You? A Human Workplace Quiz
- Assuming you've met more than one person during the interview process, do they all share the same vision for the company? Or are you hearing many different things from different people? Give this organization a 1 rating if there seems to be no vision, a 10 rating if everyone you've talked to understands the vision, or a grade somewhere in the middle.
- When you deal with people in the hiring process, do they mostly act like humans or do they behave like zombies? (Hint: humans smile and laugh and nod and tell stories. Zombies neither smile nor laugh, they don't tell stories, they keep a clipboard between you and them when they interview people, they don't come out from behind their desks, and there is an emptiness behind their eyes.) Give this organization a 1 rating if the zombie vibe is overwhelming, and a 10 rating if everyone is you've met at this employer as human as anyone else you know. Use a rating in the middle if that's appropriate.
- Have the HR people and other folks involved in the hiring process answered all your questions, treated your time as valuable, kept you in the loop with the same speed you'd expect in any other business process, and kept the selection project moving along? Rate the organization's performance on a 1 to 10 scale. If there have been any periods of radio silence longer than a week, any communication dead ends or any messages that convey, "Get in line, Jackson, there are a lot of other applicants besides you," take away a few points.
- Does your prospective boss (the hiring manager) view this process as a mutual decision-making, matching exercise, or does he or she behave as though only he or she has an important decision to make, and not you? Rate the organization on a 1 to 10 scale where 1 is "It's all about them" and 10 is "We're partners in this." Use a rating in the middle if you like.
- Have the people you've met in the company been forthcoming about the challenges facing the company -- not the challenges for you in the job, but what they're up against in their marketplace and where they don't feel totally confident? In other words, have they been human with you about their issues and needs, or have they sent you the message, "We are perfect, and the only question is whether you're good enough to work here?" Use a 1 rating if the company-culture theme song is "Our Lips are Sealed" and a 10 rating if talking with them about their next hill to climb is like talking with your best friend about his or her troubles. Use a rating in the middle if it suits the situation.
- Do the people you've been meeting seem open, switched-on and creative, or do they seem bureaucratic and stuffy? 1 = Bureaucrat City. 10 = Awesome people, energized. Use any rating in the middle that fits.
- When you think about the people you've met during the interview process, what's their average IQ in your estimation? (100 is a normal IQ.)
- When you've been in the facility where you'd be working if you get this job, what was the energy like, on a 1 to 10 scale? Use a 1 rating if the energy was horrible (no one talking to anyone else, no one smiling, all business) and use a 10 rating if it was wonderful -- fun and friendly and open.
- If you were working in this job and six months down the line you had to tell your boss that he or she had a leadership problem that needed attention -- say, that your boss had a bad habit of cutting people off while they're speaking, or say your boss was missing important cues from the CEO about your department's direction -- how comfortable do you think you'd feel sharing that tough-love advice with your boss, given your interaction with him or her so far? (Use a 1 rating for "There's no way I'd tell my new boss anything he didn't want to hear" and a 10 rating if you feel it would be very easy to give your new boss feedback on his or her style, if the feedback were well-intentioned.)
- If you took this job and brought yourself completely to work, with your ideas, your wit, your quirks and your brilliance, would those things be welcomed and exalted -- or would you have to play the part of a person who has your intelligence and experience, without the rest of the package? Use a 1 rating if you'd deserve an Oscar nomination for performing this job. Use a 10 rating if the version of you who goes to work would be the same version of you who goes to the laundromat, or wherever you go when you aren't at work.
Now that you've looked through our checklist, you might be thinking: How the heck do I score this thing? You could average the responses (except the IQ part) but I encourage you not to do that. This quiz is a consciousness-raiser, not an algorithm. One of the problems with the work world, and one of the reasons we started Human Workplace, is that way too much of our messy, juicy, human interaction has been reduced to x + y = z equations, the one thing human interactions will never be.
Taking this quiz and thinking about your experiences with the organization you're contemplating joining should have helped you remember your value in the mix. You have wonderful things to offer an employer -- your brains, instincts, energy and time, for starters -- and you have a flame worth growing. Why dim your flame in the wrong place, when there are people in so many other places who will be happy to know you and collaborate with you?
I hope our quiz helped you get a bead on the team you're talking with, not from the standpoint of whether their products or services are well-designed or whether their marketing efforts are any good. Those things are important, but who cares how good a product is or how cool a marketing campaign is, if the energy in the place is horrible? Some CEOs and leadership teams (and VCs and entrepreneurs and universities and not-for-profit agencies) understand that humans power their organizations, and some don't.
We can feel compassion for the people who haven't figured that out, and we should. We just can't spend our days among them, especially the ones who believe that because they give you a paycheck, they get to tell you who to be.
Leave us a comment below and tell us what you learned taking our quiz Does This Job Deserve You?
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