Signing an offer from a company after a couple of interviews is like marrying someone after a couple of dates.
As much as it is risky for a company to hire me before actually working with me, it is hard for me to precisely predict whether I will like or dislike the company. Hence I started thoroughly observing interviewers and reading them with a critical eye. After numerous interviews, I came to build my own strategies to find an employer that is closer to my best fit.
Here’s what I keep an eye on during the interviews to spot any red flags or green flags from the companies and interviewers:
- How many people are involved in the hiring process?
- How do interviewers communicate with each other?
- How do interviewers handle it when I disagree with them?
- How do interviewers respond to my questions?
1. How many people are involved in the hiring process?
I want a workplace that listens to everyone’s voice when making decisions. Hiring is a critical decision that affects the whole team and I care about who gets involved in that decision making process.
Some companies run all the interviews held by one single hiring manager. Uh oh, red flag. It implies to me that they’re likely to leave decisions to one person’s discretion instead of hearing from other team members.
On the other hand, it’s a green flag when many interviewers with different roles and seniorities are involved. It means that they know how to make decisions as a team and how to put effort into respecting the team members’ voice.
2. How do interviewers communicate with each other?
When there is more than one interviewer in a call, it’s a great opportunity for me to observe how they interact with each other. Let’s say the interviewers are a design manager and an intermediate designer. Things I pay attention to include:
- Who leads the conversation? How often does the manager ask the designer if they have any comments or questions for me?
- How are their dynamics? Does the designer feel comfortable jumping in or does it seem like they need “approval” from the manager to talk?
This helps me get a glimpse of how they usually collaborate with each other and how they expect me to work with them.
3. How do interviewers handle it when I disagree with them?
This one is a little trickier to observe, but I always find it worth it since I want to work with people who can handle opposite opinions. So during interviews, I intentionally go against what the interviewer has said.
This doesn’t mean telling them “I completely disagree with you.” It requires a good level of sensitivity and improvisation to make it not sound confrontational or aggressive. I first validate the interviewer’s opinion, share my thought which is different from theirs, provide reasonings, and ask what they think — exactly in a way I usually discuss at work.
If I made it sound polite and kept the discussion open but the interviewer shows defensiveness, that’s a red flag — they may have difficulty handling different opinions.
4. How do interviewers respond to my questions?
My favourite part of any interview is asking questions to the interviewers, especially to leaders or managers. I treat this as a chance to gauge their self-awareness, leadership skill, and working style. Here are some of the questions I love asking them:
- What do you think are some struggles the designers in your team are facing? How do you support them in going through those struggles?
- When it comes to leadership skills, what are the areas that you’re currently trying to get better at? What approaches do you take?
- Is there anything you think can be done better in your team? (If yes, how do you plan to improve it?)
Their answers to these questions help me gauge if they are willing to support their team instead of pressuring them and if they seek growth opportunities for themselves and the team.
So, there you have it, my fellow UXers. It’s time for you to use what I just shared, combine it with your critical eyes, and find an employer that’s the right fit for you. Deciding to join a new company is always full of uncertainty and unpredictability, but you can reduce the risk by the measures you’re taking.