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How to Get in With the Right Crowd: Choosing the Right Company to Work For

22/02/2013 13:15 GMT | Updated 21/04/2013 10:12 BST

In the run up to an interview, with all the preparation that takes place to ensure you make the best impression on the interviewer, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you too should be using your time in the chair to assess their suitability as a company. Nerves can often override rational thought, so it's important to remember that this is not just about you adding value to their company, it's about them adding value to your career path.

There are many things you should be taking mental notes of during the interview that will help you assess afterwards whether they are a good fit for you. The term "cultural fit" is bounded about a lot in companies large and small, but this also applies to you. Does the organisation provide the right culture for you to work productively? Whether you are looking for office based IT sales jobs, a career in marketing or a retail position, this is extremely important when it comes to achieving a happy and productive profession.

Throughout the interview process, you can make an assessment at each stage on whether they are the right company for you; here's how.

The First Email?

When you get an email inviting you to interview, you can gauge an initial impression from how the email is worded. Email etiquette is a vital skill in the modern day workplace, so if you feel the email you receive has an unusual tone, this could be a potential initial warning that they do not place value on effective communication. Spelling and grammar could also be a sign of their attention to detail (or lack of), so carefully read and re-read.

Preparing for the Interview

Of course, the run up to your first interview means spending time collating your previous experience and learning about the company to show that you are keen and proactive. This research time is also a great opportunity to dig a little deeper and find out more about the company; check out their social profiles to assess what sort of image they like to portray of themselves and measure this against your own values. Look at online reviews to ascertain the feedback they are being given and conduct your own market research into others in the industry to see what makes them different (for better or worse) than the others.

The First Interview

There are many different yet important aspects to assess here that will help you to gauge the suitability of the organisation. The first is often the setting; did you find you could get to it easily? Is it a comfortable and modern working space? Often the person you are being interviewed by is not the person who will initially greet you, so it's worth paying attention to their manner (did they shake your hand, were you offered a drink?) as they will offer an initial reflection of the business.

Take note of how you are greeted by your interviewer; initial impressions work both ways so take note of how they present themselves and the body language they use. As you answer their questions, take note of how they react to your answers; do they seem interested? Are they encouraging you to continue? Cold responses could be an early indication of the overall working environment.

If you are invited to ask questions yourself, take this opportunity to find out a little more about their company ethics; for instance you could ask if they have any involvement in charitable deeds, do they organise team activities outside of the workplace? This information will help enormously when it comes to understanding the culture of the company.

The Second Interview

Many second interviews lead to meeting more members of the team so use this opportunity to gauge their interaction with each other; are they talking to each other? What is the general tone? Do they appear stressed/anxious? The second interview is also the ideal time to discuss progression opportunities; where did the person you are being interviewed by start out in the company? How long have they been there for? What do they like most about their current position? All of this information will help you to put the pieces together to form an accurate picture of what the company places importance on and whether this matches with your priorities in the workplace.

If you are in the process of job-hunting, you can often lose yourself in preparing a case for why you are the right candidate for the role and forget that in turn, they need to be the right candidate to facilitate your career path ideals.