How much time and effort do you put into checking out a prospective company before accepting an offer for a potential position - let alone applying to an organization?

Executives already know that a large percentage of success when hiring new employees is how well they fit into the company culture. But how does a prospective employee learn what they need to know to determine if they are a good fit with any one organization?

1. If the company is local, drive to their offices and do a little surveillance.

Observe the people going to work. How do they appear? Are they conversing with fellow employees? What about at the end of the day – is the parking lot still full? What do you notice about people leaving the offices? Checking employees coming and going in the morning and at the end of the workday can give you some insights.

2. Teams and teamwork are important points when considering a company culture.

How does the organization get things done? Are there several levels of hierarchy to get a decision made? Are teams already in place and, if so, how would you fit with the other team members? Would stepping into a position of leadership create resentment with an existing team? If given an opportunity during the interview stage, request a meeting with the team you would be leading to get a sense of the member dynamics and current functionality.

3. Who do you know who knows the company you are considering as your next employer?

Tap into your network to ask questions of people outside the organization to find out what they know. LinkedIn is a good resource. These contacts could be customers or suppliers to the company or even ex-employees. Their experiences will create different perspectives that can be helpful when looking at the potential company from all sides. You can also check out or However, be careful when reading negative comments that could be from disgruntled employees.

4. It goes without saying that researching the company on Google, LinkedIn, financial information sites, such as Yahoo finance, and company websites are helpful.

You can find out if there are outstanding lawsuits, disgruntled reviews from unhappy customers, bankruptcies, and both bad and good information that can help you evaluate the employer. Learning some of these things early in the search can save you time should you determine there is not a good fit.

You may have dreamed of working for a particular brand and that unfulfilled fantasy may still be lurking in the back of your mind pushing you towards an organization that may not be a good match for you at this stage in your career. Yet, you continue to want to pursue the company. 

Be realistic and diligent in your research to make sure the critical factors that are important to you are present in that organization. Of course, no one really knows the full effects of fitting into a company until they actually start a job and get grounded, including getting to know the people and processes.

Avoid disappointment in a new job by performing your own due diligence to understand the company culture.


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