We all know that to get where we want to be, certain sacrifices are required–especially when we are starting out and getting the engine going in our career. That means late nights, extra hours, and constantly going above and beyond as a matter of expectation.
Still, you can be willing to do all of this extra labor with a smile on your face and still want the possibility of a week of working remotely in the summer, or an afternoon off to see your kid’s recital.
So when you’re going for the job, here are 5 ways of finding out (without alerting the hiring manager) whether your potential new company prioritizes work life balance.
1. Reverse the reference check
They’re going to be checking up on you, after all. That’s de rigueur.So why not check up on them? Sift through your online network and see if you know anyone (or anyone who knows anyone) who used to work for that company and might be willing to chat with you. Avoid asking them to answer any of your questions in writing, but do ask them to be candid. Ask about the culture, the flexibility, the diversity, and what they would have changed if they had the chance.
2. Stake it out
Try and schedule your interview for super early or late in the day. If it’s 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. and the office is crammed despite being advertised as a 9-5 job, then you have your answer. Not a lot of family dinners appear to be happening. Then, be sure to look for signs of life outside of work: family photos, vacation memorabilia, etc. If you don’t get past the lobby or the boardroom, ask for an office tour. Evidence that families and outside interests are prized in the office is a very good sign.
3. Social media stalking
Not the creepy kind, just the quick search. Try to get a sense of different tiers of employees, from executives to interns. Are people complaining? Working all the time? Taking vacations? Do they have families? What sort of press has been generated by the company or its employees?
4. Do your homework
Read up on other companies also, to get a sense of work-life balance policies in your industry. Try Maybrooks, Glassdoor, or Fairygodboss for starters. If you don’t get this job, or decide you don’t want this job, then you’ll have a good idea of companies you might try next.
5. Ask around it
Direct questions can raise suspicions about your work ethic or intentions. Save them for after you receive the offer and are negotiating with HR. And, in the interview process, ask questions that might get the answers you want without tipping your hand–questions like what they love about the company that has nothing to do with their direct work, or the type of person who does best in that environment, or even just asking them to describe the company culture. Pay attention to what they’re saying—and what they aren’t saying.
If you keep your wits about you, it is possible to glean quite a bit about a company’s particular work-life balance—all without damaging your chances of getting the job.