Interviewing: Partnership (Fit)

Finding the fit between you and an environment is integral to building a satisfying and successful career. With that in mind, you must first evaluate your professional and personal needs that you would like to fulfill through your next opportunity. In addition, you also must assess what the organization’s needs are and how you would contribute to its mission and goals. This will allow you to determine the extent of your fit with an organization. What are your deal breakers? What are your preferences? Does this opportunity make sense when looking at your short-term and long-term goals? What do research and your informational interviews tell you about the culture? Here are are some factors you will want to brainstorm as you undergo an interview process:

You have multiple identities and they come from various aspects of your life. Some of your identities may be linked to experiences you have had or communities to which you belong. Others may be connected to to your interests, values, personality, activities, or other parts of your life. What facets of your overall identity are fundamental to you regardless of your environment? How do your core identities fit your prospective environment?

Every organization and person has values. Values define culture. For instance, Wellesley College believes in making a difference, disciplined thinking, valuing diversity, pragmatic leadership, and service. What are your values? What values do you look for in an organization? What is the mission statement of the organization you are considering? To what extent do your values align with those of your potential organization?

Wellesley College provides a liberal arts education in which students and alumnae have had multiple opportunities to explore a diverse range of topics. What topics pique your curiosity? What problems do you like to solve? Is there a theme in which problems you like to tackle? Are there ones that engage your interest more naturally than others? Which subjects do you find yourself thinking about most frequently? Is there potential for you to explore those topics in your prospective organization? To what degree does the organization care about solving the same problems you like to solve?    

Take some time to think about what you did while a student at Wellesley and perhaps your time since leaving Wellesley. What skills have you developed throughout your life? This could have been through courses or experiential learning you did beyond the classroom. Skills can include communication, organization, critical thinking, and technical abilities. To what extent do your skills align with the organization where you are interviewing?

At Wellesley College and throughout your career journey, you have developed a variety of skills.  Which ones are your greatest strengths? It is important to identify not only what you do well, but what you do best and with the most ease. How much will your prospective organization allow you to maximize your strengths?  

Areas of Improvement
While it is crucial to find a career that focuses on your strengths, it is also important to acknowledge that you may have some weaknesses, or areas of improvement. When you are evaluating an opportunity, which parts of it do you feel less confident about tackling? What types of knowledge and skills will you need to build in order to competently handle your more challenging tasks or projects?

Personality Traits
How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you? How would you describe your potential organization? How would your personality traits impact your approach to responsibilities in your prospective environment? How would it inform your individual work style, collaboration with team members, and communication with your supervisor and other key stakeholders?    

Professional Development
It is vital to consider how your prospective opportunity contributes to your professional development. How does it fulfill your short-term and long-term career goals? What knowledge will you build? What skills will you hone? What training will you receive for your position? What opportunities will you have to network and find mentors if you join your potential organization?

There are so many questions you could ask yourself with respect to lifestyle. For starters, is living in a particular location important to you? Does this preference inform what type of organization you would pursue or vice versa? What factors contribute to that preference? What types of tradeoffs are you willing make in order to maintain work-life balance? What does work-life balance meant to you individually? How do personal responsibilities like obligations to family and other loved ones play into your preference? To what extent does your identity and culture (however you define it) play into what organization you want to join next? Your professional and personal goals will continue to be interlinked for the rest of your life; therefore, it is worth considering how your professional goals, lifestyle aspirations, and organization of interest impact one another.

Career Education recognizes that finding fit between you and an opportunity is a multifaceted process. For this reason, it is strongly advisable that you engage in a thorough assessment of yourself and the option for which you are interviewing. After you identify your priorities, it will be easier for you to be intentional about the questions you ask and the observations you make during the interview process.

Cited Resource:
Career Development Across the K-16 Years: Bridging the Present to Satisfying and Successful Futures by Richard T. Lapan