Over this past year I have interviewed many Gen Yers that have been working from one to five years.  Do you know one of the biggest regrets they had?  That they didn’t take the opportunity during an interview to ask employers questions about working there.

Today, you can find countless articles and blogs where Gen Yers talk about their disappointment and disillusionment when they enter the workplace.  All college grads are encouraged to prepare intensely for their interviews with employers.  But what isn’t discussed much is what college grads should be doing to prepare themselves for the SHOCK of working as an employee.

College never prepares you for what corporate life will be.  The marketing messages to college grads on corporate websites paint a rosy picture about working there.  That’s what marketing messages are supposed to do.  But the insider reality of working as a full-time employee is not often as rosy as the marketing hype suggests. There are a lot of things that are not great about the workplace.  Anyone who has worked for any amount of time will tell you that.  But it sure helps a lot when you know upfront what you are getting yourelf into.  That always lessens the SHOCK of the job.

Here’s an inside secret that is not comonly talked about.  All companies have warts (and some have more than others). Warts are things that you, as an employee, have to tolerate. We all tolerate different things; you need to determine if the company has the particular variety of warts you can tolerate.  The way to do that is to come up with a list of questions that you ask prospective employers to get a sense of their particular warts and determine if they are tolerable for you.

In this tight job market, college grads may not have the luxury of picking an employer whose warts are tolerable.  That’s okay.  The Gen Yers I interviewed believed that if they at least had known what to expect, it would have gone a long way to lowering the SHOCK factor in transitioning from their college to workplace experience.  Although it’s important to get a job, what good is it if you are miserable from the start?

 These Wise Gen Ys told me that as interviewees, college grads have a unique opportunity to probe employers and try to understand what it would be like to work there.  Instead, that opportunity is often lost because the focus is to be prepared to answer challenging and probing questions rather than ask them.

If the questions you ask uncover that a particular company’s warts are not in your “tolerance range” but you still need to take the job if it’s offered to you, at least you are going in with a huge advantage in that you know what to expect.  Gen Yers on the job state that not knowing caused them to spend months trying to get over the SHOCK and trying to figure things out.  Knowing ahead of time and not going in blind would have helped them tremendously.

In the next blog I’ll share some of the questions these Wise Gen Ys on the Job wished they had asked during their job interviews…