5 Critical Observations to Make Before the Interview

Critical Observations in the InterviewPractically every career advisor will say that you should arrive 10 to 20 minutes earlier than the expected time of the interview. This will prove that you can keep an appointment, and should give you enough time to complete any paperwork, fix your hair, and do anything else that needs to be done.


Still, it’s a good idea to use some of that pre-interview time to observe your surroundings; this can help you determine whether it’s the right company for you. With that in mind, here is a list of observations you can make in those precious few moments before entering the interview room:

1. Acceptance and greeting.

Just like the moment you lay your eyes on someone and acknowledge what type of person he or she is, you can learn a lot about a company the moment you walk through the door. Even if some companies don’t have reception areas, they should at least put some effort into welcoming guests and clients. Simple greeting protocols are signs that the company gives importance to guests, clients, and employees.

2. Information from the receptionist.

With the help of a receptionist, you can gather a great deal of information about the company. Interact with the receptionist, and make some observations based on his or her responses. If a receptionist greets you warmly and enthusiastically, this could mean that the company is a good place to work. If you manage to find out how long has he or she been working at the company, that could also be an indicator.

3. Technological features.

While you’re waiting, you can take a look at the kinds of technology the company has – their desktops, mobile gadgets, and video/projection equipment being used around the office. They don’t have to have the fanciest or flashiest equipment, but they should be up to date. A firm with antiquated technology could prevent you from doing your job efficiently and effectively.

4. Overall physical layout.

Whether the employees are boxed into cubicles or provided with separate desks, observing the physical layout will provide you information about the culture into which you’d be integrated. Observe how flexible the environment in the workplace is – the walls, the chairs, the tables, the distance between tables, and how the employees react to their work environment. Can you manage to work innovatively and creatively in that type of situation? Does it fit your idea of a good place to work? If it does, then this might be the right company for you.

5. Employees’ overall demeanor.

While the physical appearance of the workplace can provide great insights, the company’s employees are a far better source of information. Feel the vibe – do they smile often? Is there a warm atmosphere in the office? Do they joke around while working to lessen the pressure of work? Or, is it dull or tense? Look around to see whether the employees are all wearing headphones/headsets and are glued to their screens, or are interacting with each other and actually having a great time at work.

Additionally, you can look at their personal style; check out the office attire. This may help you to adjust if you have plans to add some flair to the office uniform.

Lastly, be aware that some hiring firms may ask you to wait in an area where you can’t make these observations. In that case, consider making a request to use the restroom. On the way there and back, you can make a number of crucial observations before you finally focus your attention on the interview.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.