Mrs. Linklater hasn't been gainfully employed for sometime now. At least not in a work for a company kind of way. As her own boss, she enjoys a level of work satsifaction not often found in nature. But she thinks she remembers what it was like to have clammy hands and a dry mouth during an interview. Anyway, AOL offered up these helpful hiring hints and she just couldn't keep her mouth shut.
Job seekers, beware.
While you may be raring to ditch a demeaning employer, make sure you aren’t
trading one problem workplace for another. There’s no crystal ball to tell
you with certainty whether a prospective employer is toxic or terrific, but
you do have the power to sniff out signs of negativity before you join a
soul-crushing team. You can spot red flags to avoid joining a dreary workplace
by using these simple investigative techniques and observational skills.
Mrs. Linklater: Does this advice seem especially timely since AOL is dumping a couple of thousand people?
A picture is worth a thousand words and so are facial expressions. Arrive
early to your interview and watch people coming and going from the office.
Mrs. Linklater: If they have pained looks on their faces, don't try the free Slim Jims.
Notice how visitors, yourself included, are announced. (“Mr. Jordan, your
nine o’clock is here,” versus, “Sam! Get out here right now!”) The tone of
the greeting can tell you a little about a company’s general personality.
Mrs. Linklater: If the receptionist announces your presence
with, "Mr. Jordan, that nice piece of ass from Friday is here," you may
want to just take that as a compliment. Especially gay men or women
be shy; strike up a quick dialogue with company chatterboxes during your
wait. Look for telltale signs of unhappiness or resentment, such as employees
who refuse to answer questions clearly, avoid direct eye contact or blow
you off completely.
Mrs Linklater: On the other hand, they may just think you're creepy.
Although some might simply be having a bad day, this
could be the kind of daily treatment you’ll receive here.
Mrs. Linklater: Which would you prefer? A bunch of chatty Kathies
you can never get rid of. Or people who don't have to stop and
talk to every time you pass in the hall?
if you see a number of people who seem overworked or stressed. You might
witness hunched shoulders, tired faces and sluggish gaits. These traits probably
Mrs. Linklater: Or they could be illegals.
Ask for a tour of the
facility. (If the prospective employer refuses your request without offering
a good reason, run for the hills.) The common areas of any office are ripe
with information for the job seeker. Pause at the water cooler, elevators
and courtyard while you scrutinize body language and conversations. Are employees
happily chatting about their families and hobbies? Are they mired in serious
work discussions? Are they complaining about fellow coworkers? Are they marching
solo without interaction?
Mrs. Linklater: Don't overdo it, they'll think you're a narc.
your walk through the office, look for telltale signs of mutiny such as people
surfing the Internet, worried looks on the faces of employees, or less-than-cordial
greetings to you.
Mrs. Linklater: You might be interrupting the only free time they have to look at porn.
While you’re walking the halls,
note whether the place seems like one where you’ll become inspired or depressed.
After all, the personality of a company is often reflected in its visual
elements. For example, walls barren of artwork could signify the place is
run by penny pinchers who are either unwilling or unable to pay for simple
Mrs. Linklater: Most office artwork sucks. Look in the dumpster. Somebody may have finally put it out there.
the décor of cubicles and offices. Does every cube look pretty much the same,
or are they personalized with photos, awards and mementoes? If you see a
lot of pictures of kids and you have a brood of your own, it could indicate
that you’ll have a great deal in common with your coworkers. Conversely,
very few personal touches might indicate a general expectation of conformity.
Mrs. Linklater: No personal touches may indicate unusual
alternative lifestyles disguised as conformity. This could be a
If the timing seems appropriate, ask specific questions of employees based
on the items on their desks, such as, “I see your son plays soccer. Do you
get to many games?” If the answer is a dejected, “No, I’m usually at work,”
think twice. This workplace might foster a sweatshop labormentality.
Mrs. Linklater: Or they're just getting it on with somebody at the office.
your interview is scheduled after business hours or during lunch, be conscious
of how many people are sticking around the office. If everyone is working
through lunch or way beyond official closing time, ask your interviewer if
this represents a typical workday.
Mrs. Linklater: If there's nobody around at all, don't be surprised if the offer you get is a proposition.
Finally, note the cleanliness of the facility. Be especially cautious if
the president or executive team has an updated suite of plush, decorated
offices while the rest of the business resembles a run-down tenement. Check
out the lavatory before or after your interview. Take a moment in the stall
to listen for hot gossip. While you’re at it, note how clean it is; if the
taps drip and the place appears dingy, the health and wellbeing of the employees
might be undervalued.
Mrs. Linklater: Stand up on the toilet so they can't see
your feet -- a surefire way to hear lots of good dirt. If you
fall in, pretend you were trying not to touch the seat.
When you’re considering making a move to another employer, ask around about
the company. Chances are you’ll uncover useful information via friends or
acquaintances. If you’re really fortunate, you may even be able to connect
with someone who is a current or former employee. Set up a telephone call
or lunch date with that person and find out all there is to know before you
accept the job. During your conversation, ask the person to describe the
company culture and a characteristic day on the job.
Mrs. Linklater: Good luck. In this day and age of wiretaps
without warrants, they'll just assume you're bugged and they're being
Once your reconnaissance mission is complete, evaluate your data with your
head and gut. Ask yourself the basic question, “Does this seem like a place
where I will be happy working?” If the answer is an obvious negative, stop
wasting your time. Go in search of a company where mutual respect and satisfaction
are everyday fundamentals.
Mrs. Linklater: A company store, summer hours, casual Fridays, a
cheap cafeteria, free parking -- there are many perks that make mutual
respect and satisfaction worth giving up.