Show candidates their work areas, and get their reactions

When hiring a new IT worker, take a few minutes to give them a tour of the group’s work environment. You don’t have to go so far as to point out, “Here’s the cube where you’d be sitting,” but try to give them a general idea of what the typical work area looks like. At some shops, all of the programmers get their own offices, and at some shops all of the programmers are packed in two to a cube. Showing the general work area sets basic expectations for the candidate.

This is not for the candidate’s sake. Forget the candidate for a moment.

Ask the candidate, “How does this work environment compare to your current company?” Then ask, “And how does this compare to the other companies you’ve interviewed with?”

This is your chance, Imaginary Employer Corporation, to find out how your office looks at a very first glance to a prospective employee – and to a prospective customer! Watch the candidate’s reaction carefully, and read between the lines. Examine what they say, and link it to their current employer’s size, sales, and industry.

I know the dot-com days are long gone. Nobody installs foozball tables or free soda machines anymore, and nobody gives programmers corner offices with a view of Biscayne Bay. But as an employer, how often do you get the chance to tour your competitors’ offices? Because when it comes right down to it, everyone else is competing for the same talent you want. I had one interview where I was mentally calculating how much I’d have to spend in order to make my office livable, and another interview where I was mentally calculating how much of a salary cut I would be willing to take in order to work in a particularly posh environment.

Your office may not be your pride and joy, but it’ll be a part of the job negotiations. If you acknowledge that, and take it into account as part of your offer package, you can make a better offer that the candidate will be more likely to accept.

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • I can't agree enough, I've always asked to see my work area at every interview I've been on. I've been willing to accept some abysmal conditions in the past depending on other factors. Nobody has ever refused to show me but if they did it would be a huge red flag unless there was some obvious security limitations/rules preventing it.

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