Landing a great job is about more than a paycheck, benefits package, or good location. There’s another aspect of your job that is important enough to make or break your experience – company culture. All the money in the world won’t make up for a job you don’t like at a company where you don’t feel comfortable. You spend too much time at work to be unhappy in it.
Company culture is the unique personality or character of an organization, which can be seen in everything from dress code to workplace behavior to company values. Working at a company with conflicting values can be stressful, unfulfilling, and even discouraging at times. No matter how great the position and salary, if it’s not a culture match, you may be unfulfilled.
Now, even more employers are trying to figure out whether candidates will be a good fit for the company’s environment and with fellow co-workers. According to a study published in the American Sociological Review, determining whether or not potential new hires would enjoy working in the company’s cultural environment can play a greater role in the decision making process or the hiring process than your skills or background.
So, how do you go about uncovering a company’s culture and deciding whether or not it’s a good fit for you? Here are five ways you can find out if a company’s culture is right for you.
Assess Your Most Important Values
Think about the last time you felt like a job was a bad fit for you. What was it in paticular that made a poor fit? Asking yourself questions like this while reviewing your work history will help you get a better sense of what you’re looking for in an employer.
Discovering what is important to you about a company’s culture is a personal process, and you need to find what works best for you.
Keep a realistic expectation when listing your important values. It’s rare to find a work environment that is completely aligned with your values, but you should find employers that have a culture that allows your values to co-exist.
Apply Some Research
A simple action you can take to find out about a company’s culture is to visit their website. Most employers will have mission statements, annual reports, and media sources that can give insight into their beliefs and ethics. Looking into an employer’s social networking profiles can help you see if a company is more casual, expressive, and flexible or more professional, straight forward, and structured.
You can also research independent websites like GlassDoor.com or WetFeet.com where former employees offer honest opinions of companies they’ve worked for. The more you know before interacting with a potential employer, the better prepared you’ll be to ask the right questions to see if the job would be a good cultural fit.
Ask For Help
You can get a lot of information externally, but to get unique insight into what a company’s culture is really like, consider talking to people on the inside. Current employees and managers can give many details about the average work day and what is expected from the employer. Another bonus of talking to employees is that you’re networking with people who may improve your chances of getting hired if called for an interview.
Also, consider talking to recruiters from within a company or at a staffing agency. They can provide extensive experience from working for a certain employer. It’s their job to ensure job candidates understand what a company is like.
Arrive Early For an Interview
If possible, arrive early for an interview to observe the surroundings. Pay attention to how employees react to their work. Are they bored? Stressed? Excited? Note how managers or co-workers interact with each other, how they dress, or the layout and design of the workspaces. These kinds of clues can help you determine whether you’d mesh well with the work environment.
Acquire Information During an Interview
Before you’ve even been invited for an interview, you might consider doing an informational interview with the company. An informational interview involves talking with people who are currently working in the field to gain a better understanding of a job. You aren’t interviewing for a job, just meeting to gain experience and information.
While an interviewer may not be an ideal source for insight about negatives in an employer’s culture, asking questions that are specific to your values can help. Questions like, “Do you stress teamwork or independence?;” “What attracts employees to the company and why do they move on?;” or “What will be the greatest expectations and challenges of working for this company?” can help you determine if your values and a potential employer’s culture are a good match.
Not every job is meant for you, even if you are qualified for the position. If it turns out it’s time to go back to the drawing board, there are opportunities out there for you. By doing your research, enlisting the help of a recruiter, and building relationships with others – you may find the job that fits.