Getting Along: Why The People You Work With Are Just As Important As The Job
When going for interviews and deciding whether to accept a job offer, many factors will come into play in the decision-making process. These include hours, salary, scope for career progression, location, and the role itself – what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis.
But one aspect of a career often gets overlooked: the people you work with. Your colleagues will be around you for most of your day, five days a week. They’re as important as anything you do on your computer.
Here’s why who you work with can make all the difference, and how you can make sure – as best you can – that you’ll get along with everyone else in the office.
Difficult colleagues getting you down
For the most part, people are hired for their skills, not for their personalities. While one person might get snappy, heated and argumentative in a stressful situation, someone else might be completely indifferent. Of course, if you have a colleague who’s cold, unfriendly or unhelpful, this will undoubtedly put a strain on your working relationship.
Our happiness depends on the quality of our relationships, so negative work relationships are going to make you feel down. Research published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) tells us that healthy work relationships promote well-being and increase work efficiency. So if you really want to enjoy your job, and do your job well, then the people you work with is an important factor to consider when thinking about a job offer.
Do you get along with the interviewer(s)?
More often than not, the person who is interviewing you could end up being your line manager. If there are two interviewers, the other person is also likely to be a colleague, perhaps doing the role you applied for, but at a more senior level. And if you’re going through two or even three rounds of interviews, it’s likely that at the final stages you will be interviewed by someone at a more senior, managerial level.
We mentioned before that job applications and interviews mainly centre around whether the applicant’s skills match the job requirements. While personality may not be a deciding factor for the interviewer, the interview does give both of you a chance to see if you both naturally get along.
Even if you answered all the interview questions to the best of your ability, in a friendly, genuine and professional way, it’s still worth asking: Can I imagine working with them? Or: Do they like me as a person? Perhaps the interviewer wasn’t friendly at all, or they barely seemed interested in what you were saying. If so, these are red flags worth bearing in mind when you’re considering a job offer, compared to another one which perhaps offers less pay, but a better working environment.
But say you have the first interview, and you thought the vibe was totally off. If you get invited to a second interview, it can still be worth going to. After all, you can’t like everyone. Maybe you’ll get on swimmingly with the second interviewer. Or perhaps, if it’s the same interviewer again, you find some common ground after speaking a bit more and connect in some way. Maybe they (or you) were just having a bad day during the first interview.
Pay attention to the working environment
Arriving early for the interview is your chance to get a feel for the working environment and a hint – however small and narrow – at what you potential co-workers are like. As you’re waiting for the interview, notice if the office is quiet or loud, and how people communicate with each other. A quiet and peaceful office may suit some, but others may prefer a more chatty environment. Some like to keep their heads down and get on with their work, whilst keeping communication short and friendly, whilst others flourish in more social and team-oriented work cultures.
Some may argue that if everyone knows someone is being interviewed, then the normal level of chatter may be hushed. Or, to give the interviewee a good impression of the workplace, everyone might naturally act as friendly and calm as possible, despite wanting to freak out about an impending deadline. While this may be true, as mentioned before, you can still get a hint of whether everyone gets along with each other or not.
Ask to be shown around the office
Sometimes the interviewer will show you around the office, or at least the department you would be working in. Again, this is your chance to get a gist of the working environment. But, if at the end of the interview they don’t plan to show you around, it could be worth asking if they could give you a quick tour of the department.
This not only shows enthusiasm and a keen interest in the role, but it gives you an opportunity to check out and meet your potential colleagues. While everyone might act friendlier than usual when you’re being shown around, perhaps there will be some clues as to how (and if) everyone gets along. If people are working hard, but also cracking jokes and speaking openly, this could be a positive sign.
Some of your office colleagues will inevitably suffer mental health issues. According to the charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem each year. This means that 25% of your colleagues at any given time might be experiencing depression, anxiety or a sleep disorder. These kinds of issues can either be partly a result of the workplace, or be exacerbated by it.
It’s not your place to judge the illness of another. If you suspect a colleague is suffering, or notice a change in mood, the best you can do is offer to help. Cut sufferers a little emotional slack. Chances are, you’ll be the one in need of help this time next year.
Make the most of employee reviews
Don’t forget that you can check Glassdoor for employee reviews of companies they’ve previously worked for. In this way, you can really get some honest insight into what their working relationships were like, and whether the job will ultimately be a good match for you.
If you want to ensure that you’re both happy and productive in a job, then consider how the people you work with can either promote or hinder your ability to thrive.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit their website.