The million dollar interview question is:

You see your dream job posted. You apply, do your due diligence, prepare and go through several rounds of interviews. Everyone you meet is professional, insightful, encouraging. You get the offer and enthusiastically accept. After a few weeks in your new role the record skips. Who are these people and what did you do with the ones I interviewed with? You repeatedly ask yourself how could my judgement have been so off?

The million dollar question in any interview becomes – Who are the people I am going to work with, what are they made of?  

NY Times Contributor Adam Grant offers a great suggestion in his latest piece – ask people to tell you a story about something that happened at their organization but wouldn’t elsewhere. The story goes on to explain that while the examples tend to fall into almost identical categories, the answers can help you answer the these fundamental questions: Is this a fair place? Is it safe to work here? Can I shape my destiny and have influence in this organization?

Additionally, ask about an organization’s diversity, mentor and/or interest groups. Not IF they have diversity, mentor or interest groups, but rather what do they look like? Does executive management participate? What are the group’s missions and/or 5 year plans?  This can help you figure out if there is a true commitment to the issues they represent or if they exist for appearances.

At the end of the day, there are no guarantees. The best we can do is arm ourselves with research, ask deep diving questions that allow for informed decisions and rely on our instincts. Mistakes are lessons if we keep our eyes open and learn from them. Lessons are experience when not made twice.

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