Over the last year, I have interviewed about 50 people for positions in our consulting group.  Most of the time, I am giving case interviews to test people’s logical structuring, and analytic skills.  Sometimes, I have a chance to speak more openly – both the good reasons to join and the reasons they should reconsider this choice. If you are mid-career, you gotta be smart and go where there is a fit.  Find a place that fits you.

To be clear, for any job you are interviewing for. . . you need to do the research, do great in the interview, build rapport and get the offer.  Repeat: get the offer.

That said, if you are mid-career, I believe that the work you do, and how much you get paid are largely fixed.  It is the market economy, and at age 30-50s, you know what kind of work you will be doing.  If you have been an operations consultant for 15 years, you are not going to be an architect, or clothing designer. Holding the money and the work constant, a few things you should consider with a job move:

Work with people you like.  The one thing you do control – what has the biggest impact on your happiness – is the people you work with. Gallup shows that most people are disengaged at work, and the #1 reason people leave a job is their boss here.  This seems obvious, but successful driven people like to work with people like themselves.

  • Talk to people who have worked there, or have left
  • Look at glassdoor.com for the reviews
  • Interview the interviewer; get them to open-up and start talking.
  • Who leads the group, and what is her history?

Where are you in your career S-curve?  Strong believer that most things in life at not linear – same with your career. Depending on where you are in your career S-curve, there will be trade-offs between the different roles:

  • Are you at the launch stage? Eager to start something new, exert 10x effort?
  • Are you mid-flight, doing great work, and just need to do more of it?
  • Are you in the plateau stage; focused on other non-work things in you life
  • Are you on the old S curve, or jumping to a new one?

Consultantsmind Career S curve

Where is the group in its S-curve?  The same life-cycle question applies to companies and groups.  If you are joining a start up within a large established company, which culture is going to be more important to you?  Stability and process? Newness and ambiguity?  How big is the group, is it growing or shrinking?  How does the group map up to the C-suite (operations, finance, marketing, sales, HR)?

  • What’s the context of the company vs. their competitor?
  • What is the stock doing?  How many people are in the office you will be at?

Find places where there is trust. Remember it’s more important WHO you work for that the WHICH company you work for.  Good leader, good boss, good life.  Big consulting firms are also made up of “tribes” of partners and senior managers.    You have to know who you are working for and, honestly, “interview them” as much as they are interviewing you.  Simon Sinek reminds us that real leaders eat last (as a metaphor for taking care of their people first) here.

“What does success look like?”  In the end, think about what you really want.  If you fast-forward 5 years and look back, what would have made this decision to move companies or roles a smart decision?  Work backwards from the end result.

Question:  What is the best way to find a “fit” with a new company or job?  What questions do you use as an interviewer or interviewee to find “fit”?

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