Photo by phong bui thanh

In poker a “tell” is a habit, physical reaction or behavior which gives other players information about your hand. Experienced players are familiar with the most common tells and use this knowledge to improve their odds. Do companies have “tells?” Are there signs you can look for that will help you avoid joining a dysfunctional or flawed company, or one that’s a bad fit for you, your goals & personality? There certainly are, and in this post I’ll cover some of the key things you can look for when interviewing to help you find the best organization – and avoid the train wrecks.

1. Is the organization aligned? One of the most powerful ways to determine how strong an organization is is to ask everyone you interview with to describe the company’s strategy. If the answers you get vary wildly, a red flag should go up. Organizations which are strategically aligned AND whose leadership can communicate will get this right. Everyone ought to have some fairly clear sense of what the organization’s strategy is – if that’s not the case, beware.

2. What’s the organization’s personality? Different organizations have vastly different personalities. One of the critical observations you need to make when visiting for an interview is to carefully watch the interaction between personnel. If you are being escorted by one interviewer to another’s office, watch how your escort interacts with people you encounter while you walk to the next interviewer’s office, and pay special attention to how the two interviewers interact. If there’s no spark, no humor, no genuine personal interaction, be careful. Another thing which may sound trivial but I think is valid is to pay a little attention to how people have decorated their offices. If offices tend to be bland and generic, it says something about the organization, as does the opposite.

3. How does the company make decisions? Ask each person you meet how the company makes key decisions. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to identify a critical decision the firm has made recently – a physical expansion, acquisition, investment in a new production line or R&D, and so forth. Ask everyone how the company approached and made that decision. How the firm approaches big decisions will give you insight into how it truly operates. Does the President or CEO make all the decisions or does the firm favor a more participatory style? How engaged and involved are middle managers with the process? Does senior management welcome their input and involvement? And once again, if you get entirely different responses from a number of people, it’s not a good sign.

4. Who’s been Trumped? No, I haven’t jumped from poker to pinochle – I’m alluding to the bizarrely coiffed Donald and his “Apprentice” catchphrase. Depending upon how senior or junior the position for which you’re interviewing is, you may want to explore this issue. Every organization terminates someone at some point. How did the company or manager approach that decision? What type of performance or behavior won’t be tolerated? Was the employee warned and given an opportunity to improve his/her performance? If you’re interviewing for a middle or senior management position, it’s entirely fair for you to ask this question. Terminating ineffective personnel is a fact of corporate life, and the responses you receive should be straightforward. Ask several people. If they get squirmy, uncomfortable or weird when asked, be concerned… it’s NOT a good sign.

As you prepare for your next interview make sure you keep these tips in mind because how the company’s representatives behave – their “tells” – may very well be just as important than what they say in revealing the essence of the organization. Good luck!

Similar Posts:

2 Comments on Can poker skills help when you interview???

  1. […] editor wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptPhoto by phong bui thanh In poker a “tell” is a habit, physical reaction or behavior which gives other players information about your hand. Experienced players are familiar with the most common tells and use this knowledge to improve … […]

Leave a Reply