In an unfamiliar setting the first thing anyone does is scope out their surroundings. In an interview, an interviewee should be doing the same thing whether they feel completely comfortable or not. You could have all your moves and answers prepared down to the handshake.
But without a good sense of the type of company you’re in, no amount of preparation will ready you for whatever curve ball they throw at you. If you have an idea of what kind of workplace this is, there are no curve balls.
The appearance of the company’s office is a reflection of its culture. It says a lot about who they are and how they want to represent themselves. When you begin to understand this, you learn a little about the people behind it and the people it hopes to attract. This will help you determine whether you will fit in well.
Look, listen, and learn. Take everything into consideration from the greeting you get upon arrival to the artwork displayed on the walls. One of the most important things to observe is the way people interact with others. Notice how they talk to certain people such as colleagues, subordinates, supervisors and even clients. This will tell you a great deal about how they conduct themselves as employees and as a company.
Companies don’t typically offer tours but for big enough places, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a quick one. The front and back end could be very different and it’s better to know early. It always looks better for a candidate to get to know the company and its people right off the bat. It shows that you’re truly interested and aren’t afraid to take initiative.
Take in the demeanor and attitudes of the workers there. You can easily gauge the company’s energy from them. What are they wearing? Are they casual? Smiling? Do they seem busy or not so much? They can tell you a lot about the everyday on goings at a company so be sure to take mental notes.
An interview is a good chance for you and the interviewer to get to know each other one-on-one. Since you can’t interview the entire company, take in all you can while you can. In the case that the interviewer does like you and decides to bring you on, think about what you’ve seen and whether you want to accept their offer. As much as you might want a job, can you see yourself there for at least a couple of years?
An interviewer can tell you every detail there is about working there but it won’t reveal as much as the office itself. Interviews are very much a two-way street. While the interviewer is evaluating you as to whether you’d be a good match, you should be making your own evaluations as to whether they are a company you would be happy working for.