Similar to relationships, finding the right match in work is critical. There is more to ensuring your professional satisfaction than landing a job that fits your professional aspirations. Cultural fit is a significant factor in the success and contributions you bring to a company.
The first step in ensuring your success in an organization is to conduct your research prior to the interview. There are many resources available to help you make this assessment, starting with the company’s overall website: check any videos, employee testimonials, social media content, mission statement, community involvement, publicity/press releases, and related content. Note how it “feels” to you overall. What’s the impression you are taking away from your visit to their site?
In addition, websites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor can provide insights into the work environment and culture through personal anecdotes and experiences. But, check those out cautiously, especially the negative comments.
Seeking out references is particularly valuable. If you know anyone who has worked or currently works for the company, be sure to reach out to ask some questions about the culture. Some of the questions you will want to ask include:
- What does the environment look like when you walk into and through the building?
- What are you noticing about employees that you meet/see, including the receptionist?
- Is communication clear and transparent?
- Does the leadership promote collaboration?
- Is the leadership team a unifying group that adheres to its own corporate values?
- Do they trust employees to make decisions?
Your face-to-face interview is a two-way street. This is one of the most important opportunities to observe company culture. Some key things to look for:
- How were you received when you arrived?
- Were they warm, welcoming and were they expecting your arrival?
- Do they respect your time?
If you are not greeted by the interview start time and are not offered an apology or explanation, this could be a reflection of how you will be treated as an employee. Note what types of questions they ask in the interview.
Most situational and behavioral questions are centered around common issues the company faces. Therefore, if most of your questions are centered around calming down dissatisfied customers or how you deal with disgruntled/difficult personnel, this is probably reflective of the type of environment you would be joining.
Lastly, how do they follow up with you once the interview is over? Were they responsive to your communications and inquiries on your candidate status? Again, businesses that value their talent and respect their team, will provide their candidates with the same level of respect.
Remember to take advantage of the job interview to ask questions that will help you access company culture. At the end of a job interview, you’re usually given the opportunity to ask questions of your interviewer. Ask questions that will provide you with insight on the company’s culture. The person interviewing you is well aware of the culture—what it’s really like to work there.
A few questions that may help you learn more about the business environment:
- What do you enjoy most about working at this company?
- How does the organization promote the professional growth and development of its employees?
- How are employees recognized for their successes?
- Is there a lot of collaboration within teams as well as cross functionally?
- How do managers and employees share feedback?
- What activities does the company offer to promote team building?
- What kind of personality types seem to be the most successful at this company?
- Does the company value work-life balance for its employees?
- What makes you proud to work at this company?
There are numerous employers in the marketplace, don’t settle for a poor fit that does not match your values. That can be a painful experience, if you haven’t already experienced it in your career. So, tune into your instincts and find the company that’s best fit for you both personally and professionally.
If the culture—and value system—are a match, you will more effectively collaborate with colleagues and have the opportunity to bring new ideas to the organization.