Every employers’ focus these days is on finding the right person for a role. However, as an employee, have you ever gone into a new role only to find out it is not what you thought it was?

When the pitch doesn’t match the practice

Recently, when interviewing a senior manager for, of all things, an HR manager role, we came to a position on her resume with a tenure of less than six months (well done for putting the role on her resume, but that is another story). The candidate had finished an international assignment faster than expected and was seeking a role back in Australia. A senior role with a medium-sized company appealed…one that was driven by a very charismatic CEO/owner. The company had a good reputation, had achieved moderate growth and offered a position that promised to be a senior confidante to the CEO. It included being charged with facilitating contemporary leadership practices across the management team. Unfortunately, when the candidate got into the position, the role was more of a ‘go to’ person for any manager with a people issue who, in turn, had expectations that overnight ‘fixes’ would occur. Poor leadership practices were rife, with very little support from the CEO as he spent a lot of time away from the business. Was this fixable? Yes. But this is not what the candidate was sold.

Interviews as two-way exploration

When you are going into a potential role as a candidate, it can be advantageous to do some of your own interviewing. There is no need to interrogate the client, or make them feel like you are bent on controlling the interview. However, requesting the opportunity to ask a range of pertinent questions to ensure the organisation’s culture aligns with yours should be viewed positively. After all, you are showing your vested interest in making the appointment work as much as they are.

Three key questions

There are three key areas I recommend you explore to best understand the philosophies a company operates by:

  • What are the values of the organisation, including how they are ‘lived’ in the company’s processes and practices, and how the CEO supports them in their behaviours?
  • What leadership development has occurred recently in the organisation and what drove its focus?
  • Why did the last person leave the role and can you speak with them?

These should go some way to helping you understand the culture and environment you are entering. You can also see if you have anyone in your network that knows a former employee you can talk with.

Your ability to add value, be engaged and feel like you are contributing to the success of the organisation will be enhanced if you have a positive culture fit with them. Organisations spend time ensuring you are right for them…so why not do your own assessment and ‘interview the interviewer’.

Happy recruiting!