Office Environment Every office has a different feel to it. Some feel kind of "dark pin-striped suit" while others feel a little more relaxed. Years ago I interviewed for an internship in a public relations firm. From the second I set foot in the office I knew I wanted to work there. There was a big bubble gum machine in the corner and colorful pictures hung on the walls. A few years later I interviewed for a job at a large investment bank. The office was the complete opposite of the one I just described. I was interviewed in a formally decorated conference room and given a tour of the department I'd be working in. It was brightly lit, yet furnished in dull colors. I was offered and accepted both positions and loved both jobs. As you can see, you can be happy in two totally different environments. You just need to know which environment you'd be unhappy in.
Corporate Culture Defined by Merriam-Webster as "the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a company or corporation," corporate culture should be an important factor in your decision whether to accept a job offer. If you value your time away from the office, a company with a corporate culture that encourages late hours may not be for you. Is the potential employer's philosophy "win at all costs?" Is your philosophy "always play clean?" This company isn't for you. Are you an ardent proponent for animal rights? Through your research you learn that one of the company's subsidiaries does animal testing. Although this won't affect the day-to-day activities of your job, it may not be a situation in which you'll feel comfortable.
Commute Time When you're considering a job offer, take into account the length of your commute. What may have seemed like an okay distance to travel for a job interview may begin to wear thin when you have to make that trip twice a day, five days a week, in rush hour traffic.
Your Boss/Co-Workers I was once being interviewed by the director of an organization and the head of the department I'd be working in. In the middle of the interview the director yelled at the department head. When I was offered the job, I didn't even ask how much, I just said "no thank you." While I wouldn't have daily contact with the director, I knew I would have enough contact with him to make my life miserable. The same could be said of co-workers who are difficult to get along with.They may not influence your job, but they will influence the quality of the time you spend at work. Generally an interview will involve a tour of the office. Try to notice if people seem friendly and happy. This may be difficult to ascertain, but it's worth a shot. This is where networking comes in handy. Start calling people on your list of contacts to see if anyone knows something about the company.
Each of these factors taken alone may not make or break your decision to accept or decline a job offer. When you put them all together, though, you will have the information you need to make an educated choice. And then it will be time to let the potential employer in on your decision.