Assessing a Prospective Employer and What Matters Most

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By: Aimee Larrain

June 25, 2020

Talent & Culture

As a recruiter with more than ten years of experience, I receive the same question on nearly every single call. What do you love most about working for your company? I have had jobs where I had to really work hard to find something meaningful to share; however, I am fortunate in that I currently have numerous answers to discuss.

Right now, it’s a candidate’s market, and employers are using extremely thorough job selection processes to narrow down their options. With so many choices out there, companies need to stand out in some way. To differentiate themselves, they need to examine what they offer their employees beyond traditional healthcare and 401k benefits. Every candidate will have different priorities, but some qualities consistently appear at the top of the list: company culture, opportunity to grow, and flexibility in work.

Company Culture

Culture means something different to everyone. One might describe it as the company’s personality as well as values or ethics. For many, great company culture is at the top of their list of must-haves, but candidates shouldn’t make a decision based on whether a company has a beer fridge. How does the company demonstrate that it values its employees? Ask for a tour. Do the employees seem engaged? Are they smiling or laughing? Does the office seem lively? If employees are truly happy, those feelings will resonate throughout the office and most likely be visible to visitors. If the recruiter seems hesitant to give a tour, it could be a red flag. I also recommend asking about the programs a company offers for employees. Companies that prioritize philanthropy work and employee wellness often hold the employees’ quality of life and overall health in high regard.

Opportunity to Grow

At Clarabridge, I run our University Recruiting Program and am constantly asked, “What value will I bring to the organization?” Candidates want to know how fast they can start contributing and what opportunities might exist for growth and upward mobility. Eager to make an impact as soon as possible, new graduates seek opportunities that offer a structured path for career growth and the prospect of staying with a company long-term. These candidates should look out for employees who have been with the company and held multiple positions and examine the paths they took to get where they are now. Ask about what the traditional career path looks like for a person in the role for which you’re interviewing. If each role seems stagnant with no real path for growth, the position might be a high churn role. Regardless of how long you’ve been in the workforce, everyone wants to know they won’t be stuck in monotony forever. Does the role offer upward mobility? If not, does it offer a chance to learn and expand responsibilities, knowledge, and managerial experience?

Flexibility in Work

As a working parent, flexibility is one of my favorite topics. When starting a new job, you might wonder whether you’ll get the side-eye for leaving to go to your child’s doctor appointments or spelling bee. Is remote work acceptable regularly or occasionally? Can you prioritize your own day to meet your professional expectations while balancing the needs of your family or personal life? While it may sound too good to be true, places that value work-life balance do exist. In 2020 and the age of COVID-19, flexibility is a make-or-break element to functioning in the most basic way of life as we now know it. Ask yourself how you best to work within the parameters of a normal workday, and figure out if a new company will be willing to let you start your day at 9:30 am so you can drop your kids off at school or get that 5K morning run in before work. Ask your interviewers how the company provides flexibility for their needs, as each person’s experience may be vastly different. When deciding whether to accept an offer, whether you feel valued will boost your contribution and the value of your work.

If all else fails when evaluating a next career move, make a list of pros and cons. Truly envision yourself in each role with each company working with each team. As I always say, you’ll often spend more time with your colleagues than you will family. You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your colleagues and where you work. Choose wisely.


Aimee Larrain is the Manager of Talent Acquisition and has been hiring top talent for Clarabridge for over six years. A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Aimee is a mid-western transplant passionate about all things hiring and family. Her shift from healthcare public relations and four years of prior recruiting experience led her to Clarabridge where she has piloted initiatives for college recruiting and intern programs, partnered with leaders to create short and long-term hiring strategies, and continues to drive brand and employee culture awareness.