A job interview can tell you a lot about your potential employer, but mostly it elicits cold, hard facts: salary, benefits, market obstacles the company has faced, etc. That kind of information is all laid out before you. However, if you want to get a deeper understanding about what it’s really like to work there, you should look in some odd places. Below are some spots to check that will provide a window into employee happiness.
- Reception Area. While you’re waiting to get interviewed, scope out the reception area. Are there bulletin boards? If so, what kind of material is hanging there? If there are just boring workplace safety items and nothing like a few pics from the last employee softball game, it’s a sign employees might not get along with each other. Also, watch how staffers interact with the receptionist. Do they greet him or her when they walk by? How does the hiring manager interact with him or her? If there’s a warm bond between staffers and the receptionist it could indicate that all workers are treated equally and with respect.
- The Kitchen. This one might be a little more obvious, but take a peek inside the office kitchen if you can. Is it clean? If it’s dirty, that’s a big red flag. You probably don’t want to work in an office full of people who aren’t even mature enough to clean up after themselves. What’s the fridge like? If notes like “Jan’s food don’t touch” are noticeably absent, that’s good. It shows staffers respect one another’s belongings.
- The Bathroom. Along the same lines as the kitchen, you want to check the bathroom’s overall cleanliness. Are the soap and paper towel containers full? That could be a sign that every detail is covered by your potential employer, no matter how seemingly small. And just like the kitchen, the fewer signs the better. “A patronizing message about flushing the toilet says that, at some point, they needed to put up that sign—that it was not an isolated incident,” Liane Davey, an organizational psychologist, told Quartz.