Ever had the job you despised? The interview process was great, the facility beautiful, the co-workers kind, and a month later, you were ready to quit.
It turns out, all was not as it seemed. Before accepting your next job offer, do your research first and know as much as you can about the people – and the company – you're planning to work for. While research alone may not determine whether you accept or turn down the job offer, it's a critical component.
However, a simple Google search won't always uncover what you need to know – especially since many firms practice “reputation management”, where they try to wipe incriminating information off the web. To avoid this, start by doing a company check with Duedil.com  (short for “due diligence”); it will provide information on the company you're considering, from its financial standing to pending lawsuits, directors past and present, history, and long-term performance.
The company check will also turn up documents your potential employer is legally required to file – ones that could give you a revealing peek into how things are going at the company, as well as its potential.
But what about knowing how you might do there? What about your potential performance? This is where it's beneficial to have a strong understanding of your skills, personality traits and abilities, and the skills, personality traits and abilities required to perform the job capably and therefore enjoy the work.
There are a number of ways to evaluate your skills and abilities – from the Myers-Briggs personality test, to the StrengthsFinder  test, a popular system that rates you on 34 different categories. Both are used frequently in the business world, and both can be helpful in giving you a sense of where your skills and abilities lie, as well as giving you a better sense of how you relate best to people.
Because both are so often used by businesses, consider asking the hiring manager if he or she has an ideal Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder 'type' in mind for the job, or ask if he or she can describe the ideal traits that a successful candidate would have.
The premise of the StrengthsFinder system is simple but profound: it's that people do their best work when placed in positions of strength; that is, when people do jobs that draw on their strengths, not when people do jobs that regularly require them to operate in their areas of weakness.
For example, if you're a creative, 'big-picture' person who thrives on the thrill of new ideas, you'll likely be miserable – and constantly operating out of your areas of weakness – if working a job where you see a project through for the long-term, with a bulk of your time spent on managing small details and completing administrative tasks.
So knowing yourself – and the actual details of the job, the daily tasks you'll be required to do, and the personality traits and skills required of that job – is of huge importance when considering whether or not to take a particular position, and whether or not you'll be happy.
Of course, knowing the culture of a place is important, too – not only what gets done at that company, in that department, but how things get done. This is not as easily ascertained, but asking questions like, 'What do people enjoy most about working here?' or inquiring into the benefits offered to employees can give you some sense of what it might be like to work there.
Having the chance to meet and speak to other employees, and gauging what they're like, their body language and backgrounds, can also offer a sense of what kind of work environment the company might offer, and the types of people it attracts.
Steven Roseleaf has spent 10 years working for financial institutions and enjoys helping out others by sharing his knowledge on financial products to educate others and help them make the most of the situation.