As the science on workplace health and leadership improves, we are learning more about what motivates people and increases productivity. Even as these advances increase, career coaches are still teaching candidates the same old robotic way to use “soft skills” to finesse their way into a nightmare job.
According to a 2015 Rand study, “Working Conditions in the United States,” as many as two-thirds of all Americans are dissatisfied to some degree with their work environment. Could this be the result of “selling oneself” to fit an environment or company you will eventual hate? While no workplace is perfect, I’ve found the places that I really enjoyed working at in the past were also the ones in which I enjoyed the interview.
Research on Intuition published in 2016 by scientists at the University of New South Wales indicates that intuition is now proving that your instincts are more often right than wrong. In fact, if the interviewer(s), environment or staff at a company make you feel uncomfortable or nervous in the interview phase—that may be a good indicator that you NEED to bomb that interview. Most candidates are not really taking stock of the way company, staff and work environment is affecting them during an interview. Does the interviewer make you nervous, was the receptionist rude, and how did staff interact with each other or you?
In his book, Face Value, researcher Alexander Tudorov says that first impressions are made in one-tenth of a second. This is a process known as “thin-slicing,” in which individuals come to rather concrete conclusions on likeability, sexuality, personality, and individual worth based on a first glance. Tudorov argues in his book that a lot of thin-slicing is based on stereotypes and cultural norms. And while that may be true, ask yourself, if you are an atheist do you really want to be in an office full of evangelicals? Or if you’re a conservative, do you want to be in a firm full of bleeding-heart liberals?
Studies on intuition have been able to prove rather conclusively that intuition is a rather bankable facet of human experience. The researchers at the University of South Wales also concluded that intuition improved over time as it was used. Yet job candidates are encouraged trust the interviewer’s instincts over their own. If the interviewer says you’re hired, well then, you’re hired. Many companies see employees as just a cog in the machine, but this will be your life for more than eight ours out of a day.
The Oxford Journal of Epidemiology featured a longitudinal study on unemployment and job quality and found that people who were unemployed were happier than those who took jobs with firms where the environment was toxic. While most candidates are trying to convince companies that they are the right man/woman for the job; many have not convinced themselves that the company is even right for them. It might be useful for career coaches to teach candidates how to be the best version themselves and adequately evaluate environments best suited for them.
Researchers from the University of Chicago found that environment was so important, that in neighborhoods where there were 10 or more trees on the block, resident health perceptions were comparable to an annual income increase of $10,000 or being 7 years younger. It matters not only what you’re doing for a living, but where you’re doing it. Are you in a dark cubicle, a corner office or a firm devoid of greenery and open space?
It is high time that candidates start interviewing the interviewer—and the entire office for that matter. From the moment you arrive in front of the building until you are safely cruising out of the parking lot, you should be evaluating whether the place, its people and purpose makes you happy or sad. Findings from the annual American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America Survey discovered that work ranked number three, after the state of the nation and money as top stressors. According to the Mayo Clinic stress symptoms include depression, fatigue, change in sex drive and sleep problems among the many physical and psychological affects of stress. In fact, many people try to mask these symptoms through overeating, substance abuse and anger.
Finding more effective ways to evaluate your options may be a better choice for job-seekers and candidates. Decision-making should not be left to the interviewer. This evaluative process needs to be bilateral and not a one-way street!