“I quite often get this question from my students … how do they choose from the many offers that they get?” said Olivier Sibony, a professor of strategy at HEC Paris.
But as candidates find themselves in power, the “most likely mistake” they would make is allowing their decision-making to be influenced by one interaction, he told CNBC Make It.
That’s also known the “halo effect,” which is the tendency for a positive overall impression of someone or a company to positively influence one’s opinion in other areas.
Quite often, when people are mismatched to a job, it’s because they didn’t do their homework properly … they didn’t ask the right questions.
Professor, HEC Paris
For example, if a job candidate’s first interaction with a company representative — which is typically a recruiter — is a positive one, the questions he or she will ask during the interview “will support that initial judgment, Sibony said.
“To all the questions that you ask, you will find the answers satisfying and you will only ask questions that confirm your initial positive impression,” he added.
“You will not ask the tough questions … that would actually get the answers that would make you think, ‘Maybe it’s not such a good company after all.'”
How can you avoid picking a job that you might regret? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Ask the same questions
To overcome the halo effect, you should “force yourself to ask” every company the same set of questions, said Sibony, who is also an associate fellow at the University of Oxford.
“Whether you actually ask those questions in the interview or get the information from another reliable source is a separate issue,” he added.
“It might be much better to get the answers to your questions from Glassdoor or from people who work in the company — rather than ask the interviewer — who is very unlikely to give you a truthful answer, if you are realistic about it.”
2. Do your research
It’s “good practice” for everyone to have a checklist of questions or criteria they would like their job to fulfill, said Sibony.
“Quite often, when people are mismatched to a job, it’s because they didn’t do their homework properly … they didn’t ask the right questions.”
The author of “You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!” recommended this process for creating a checklist: Talk to five friends who have left their jobs within months or “tell you how much they hate their job every time you meet them.”
“Ask yourself, what could that person have done before taking the job that would have given them the information they needed to make the correct decision? What is the red flag they should have seen but didn’t look for?”
3. Are your potential colleagues happy?
Besides talking to your friends, it may be worth talking to your potential colleagues as well, said Sibony.
“You may think that you’ve gotten a lot of information … but they’re [on the] inside, they have a lot more information than you do.”
If they’re unhappy, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to be unhappy too.
Professor, HEC Paris
He added that candidates may ignore red flags, thinking they are “different” or “unique.”
“But you’re less different than you think … The best predictor of how happy you’re going to be in a job is how happy the other people who are in that job are.”
“If they’re unhappy, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to be unhappy too,” said Sibony.
4. Know what matters to you
Another reason job seekers would be mismatched to jobs is that “they don’t actually know what matters to them.”
“Part of what you do when you are starting a new job or when you are taking successive new jobs is not just learning about these companies. It’s learning about yourself,” said Sibony.
He added that even if you prepared the best you could, there may be “bad surprises” after you start a new role.
“I remember talking to a former student who said she was feeling very depressed and alienated because people were working from home all the time, and [she] wanted to be in an office with them,” Sibony said.
“I asked her, but you didn’t ask that question [during the interview]? She said, ‘No, because I didn’t know it was important.'”
This is why Sibony encourages job seekers to treat every new job as a learning opportunity — not just to learn about the job, but also themselves.
“You don’t really know who you are until you’ve experienced being a lot of different people in a lot of different situations,” he added.
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