Do your homework:

If you're serious about working there, check out the company before your big interview

Posted: Monday, July 10, 2006

There are plenty of great companies to work - and plenty of not-so-great ones as well. But how do you separate the good from the bad? You need to go back to school - or at least to the Internet.

Before heading into an interview, be sure to research the company to gage its stability. You'll also want to appear knowledgeable, and learn a little about what it might be like to work there. Start first by asking yourself some questions so you know what it is that you want in a workplace.

"The more you ask yourself about what your reaction to the previous job you had was, the more you'll know about what you need," says Dennis Reina, Ph.D., co-author of "Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $16.95). "I may come back with the answer that I don't want to find work in a place that gives me all the freedom in the world, instead of a work environment where I get a balance of management and freedom."

Ask around

There are number of ways to get a feel for a company's culture before you decide to take a job there.

"Look for any news articles or other information about the company," says Reina. "You could talk to local recruiters and see if anybody can give you some background on how people they've placed have liked the company. If you know anybody that worked or works at the company, ask them specifically about how they'd describe the culture there."

Susan Joyce, webmaster/editor for NETability, Inc. in Marlborough, Mass., says she likes to drive past the company to check out the parking lot (if there is one).

"Is the lot full or empty, and are there a lot of cars there outside normal work hours - which might be a good sign or it might not," she says. "Personally I never liked a company where the best parking spaces were assigned to the big cheeses. Too regimented and status for me, but some people are comfortable with that."

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