Looking for a job can be like looking for love. Before you go into a new relationship, you need to know who you’re dealing with. A 2021 Glassdoor study of 28 companies found that Black employees were less satisfied at work overall than other racial groups. Although many factors including salary, corporate culture and growth opportunities can influence a person’s level of satisfaction at work, you can learn a lot about whether or not a company is a good fit during the interview process.
We spoke with Misty Gaither, Indeed’s Senior Director & Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging about the best way to prepare for an interview. Now, we’re ready to get her advice on how you can find out if a company is the right fit for you before you take the job.
Gaither says you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions about work-life balance to get a sense of whether or not the company culture fits with your lifestyle. Questions about work flexibility, how the company supports parents and caregivers and how leadership responds to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can be good indicators of the corporate culture. “I think this is a particular challenge for people of color who may not be well-represented in their industry. But they should be inspecting the company to see if it’s a place where they can thrive,” she said. “In this labor market, nothing is off-limits.”
When it comes to conversations about salary, Gaither suggests starting early in the process. “I think it is a misuse of everyone’s time to be so far off from what the salary and compensation expectations are. It could be problematic if you wait until the end of the process,” she said. Go into the conversation with an understanding of the market rate for the position you’re applying for and the level of experience you will bring. And when you’re having the conversation, don’t just focus on the base salary. “You want to understand the bonus structure and how they handle merit increases and raises. Do they have equity or stock options, PTO, or any other benefits?” she says.
Understanding the pay transparency laws in your state can help you make sure you’re getting the money you deserve. It’s a good idea to research whether your state is one with laws that prevent employers from asking about your salary history. “Employers should not be asking what your current salary is. They should ask what your salary expectations are, which is a very different discussion,” Gaither says.
These days, lots of companies talk about diversity hiring. But it’s important to know what the company is doing to keep employees after they sign on. Gaither suggests getting an understanding of the employee lifecycle. “Understand how they hire, how they evaluate, who they promote, and how they look at pay equity and succession planning,” she says.
And don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions to make sure that diversity is something the company takes seriously. “If the conversation around inclusion and belonging starts with George Floyd, I think that presents an opportunity to ask what was happening prior,” she said. “[Employers] need to recognize that we’re trying to dismantle hundreds of years of injustice as we do this work to create equitable environments.”
After the interview, Gaither encourages job seekers to make asking for feedback a part of their process. This is a great time to provide additional information to support your resume. “I appreciate when people ask if they have provided enough information to decide whether or not they should advance through the process,” she says.
You hope that your performance in the interview will ultimately lead to a job offer. But if it doesn’t, Gaither says you should still hold your head high. “Your identity isn’t tied to the role at the company,” Gaither says. “Once you land the right job, you’ll know it.”