$250: Fill out a Vault Employer Survey
Interview Tips by Vault:
the ideal situation, the interviewer and the interviewee
are equally interested in finding a perfect fit. Look out
for yourself. Ask hard questions about work conditions,
drawbacks, and low points. If asked tactfully and backed
up with research, well-directed questions of this sort won't
offend a responsible interviewer. After all, a happy employee
is going to be more productive than someone who hates his
But if you choose unwisely the first time, don't worry
-- jobs are no longer forever. People change careers nowadays
about as often as their hairstyles. Chances are, even
the person who interviews you, if he or she hasn't been
living in a cave with blind fish, will understand that
you probably won't be with the company for life. Gone
are the days of the 1950s "company man" who signed up
after college and stayed on until he retired. Nevertheless,
choosing a job and career right the first time saves a
lot of time and angst.
Vault.com offers insider
company research on thousands of top employers.
You can also fill out an employer survey on Vault and
quality to win $500.
The following are some questions you'll want to answer,
either by yourself prior to the interview or during the
interview, to avoid ending up in the wrong position:
What are the hours?
If your research hasn't revealed this already, you should
ask if a job advertised as 40 hours a week really takes
50 or 60 hours a week, or more. You have a right to know
how much you'll be working and should protect yourself
by asking in the interview whether or not this is truly
a 40-hour-a-week job. Interviewers should be honest with
you about this; it's information you need to know in order
to make a good decision. If you're going to be slammed
with work from nine to nine every day, it might not be
worth it for you.
Be aware that overeagerness to ask about salary can
make you look unprofessional. Asking about salary while
calling up to schedule an interview is a bad idea. The
best time to ask about salary is after you've gotten the
job, but before you've accepted. Even if money is your
prime motivation, wait till late in the interview to ask
Still, salary and other benefits are important. Before
you go in for an interview, think about how much you need
to make to live comfortably, and how much you think you
deserve to make, given the responsibilities and your qualifications.
You can find pay information at specific companies with
What type of work will I be doing?
Before you go in for an interview, think about which
type of work environment suits you best. As we saw earlier,
different corporations develop different attitudes. The
atmosphere on the floor of the New York Stock exchange
is very different from a public library in a small town.
Some jobs require you to work with a team in order to
produce a final product, while you'll work in solitude
in others. It's your responsibility to find the environment
that best suits you.
How long will I be here?
Before the interview, you'll also wish to think about
your commitment to the job. The interviewer will be concerned
about how long you will be able to stay with them. Are
you looking for summer employment between school terms,
for a six-month experience, a three-month internship,
or a lifelong career path? In establishing a career, consider
that anything under a year does not constitute a valid
work experience to some employers. In many jobs it takes
six months just to get up to speed.
Are there walls?
When you go in for the interview, be alert to the work
environment, both physical and human. Pay attention to
the way the company gets its work done. Imagine yourself
coming into that building every day. Do people in the
office wear Armani or Levis, DKNY or Dickies? Do they
crowd into cubicles or kick back in plush, well-ferned
offices? Is there a backslapping, good-ol'-boy, "see the
game last night, Joe?" feel to the place? Do the workers
seem happy or do they wander round the office like zombies?
Are there stains on the carpet, interesting art on the
walls? If you look at the interview experience as an opportunity
to gather as much information as you can about the company,
you'll have plenty of factors to sift through when it's
time to make a decision.
Big fish in small pond or cog in machine?
How big a company do you want to work for? Will you
be more comfortable as a prominent player in an office
where everyone knows one another, or as a single, relatively
unnoticed cog in a massive corporate machine? Smaller
companies are more likely to offer flexible hours and
vacation policies, and they may offer more opportunities
for immediate, diverse, and substantive involvement. In
addition, a smaller company may be a growing company.
It can be exciting to ride a company as it grows, to watch
and participate in the formation of its culture and lingo.
Smaller companies also tend to suffer less from bothersome
bureaucracies, so your ideas have a better chance of immediate
By the same token, it's difficult to hide in a small
company. Everyone will soon realize if you're not producing.
It may be more difficult for you to take vacation, or
even a long lunch. Small companies also tend to pay less
and can't offer the benefits of a larger firm. And especially
in these consolidation-crazy times, they're somewhat more
susceptible to buy-outs and bankruptcy than a big, established
operation. Fortune 500 companies, on the other hand, can
usually afford higher salaries than smaller places can.
They also offer more comprehensive benefits, and may offer
a wider variety of potential places to live.
In the interview process, employees at small companies
understand that they don't have the name recognition of
bigger places and won't expect you to know as much about
them. This is why it's an especially good idea when interviewing
with a smaller place, to find out who they are and what
they do. Make sure you thoroughly check their web site,
if they have one. At least research the industry in which
the company's involved if you can't find anything more
specific. Also, Vault.com's company
research provides insights into workplace culture
at major employers.
$250: Fill out a Vault Employer Survey
all about Paid Surveys, what to Look for, and Free Advice
on Getting Started