On paper, the job seemed perfect for me: The position was completely in line with my degree, the duties and responsibilities were right up my alley, and the office maintained a well-stocked kitchen that would satisfy my every snack craving.
Sounds like my dream job, right? There was only one small problem: I simply didn’t mesh with the company culture.
They favored a more rigid, closed-door, corporate atmosphere, when I would’ve preferred something more collaborative and open. They were complete clock watchers, when I would’ve liked a more flexible schedule. To put it plainly, we just weren’t on the same page.
When it comes to looking for a new job, you already know that a big part of the interview process involves the company evaluating whether or not you’re a good fit for their open role. But, it’s important to keep in mind that the employer isn’t the only one who needs to identify a good match—you should be looking for that same exact thing. Company culture can have a big impact on how you feel about your work, so you want to make sure you sign an offer letter with an organization you’re truly excited about.
Company culture can have a big impact on how you feel about your work, so you want to make sure you sign an offer letter with an organization that you’re truly excited about.
However, figuring out what a company is like before you actually work there can be a bit of a challenge. Luckily, there are a few proactive things you can do to determine whether or not a company is a good fit for you—before you ever sign your name on that dotted line.
1. Know what you want.
It’s hard to make any decisions when you don’t really know what you’re looking for. So before you can determine whether you and a specific company would gel together, it’s important to have a solid handle on what exactly you want from your employer.
Many of us have an easier time identifying the things that we absolutely don’t want. If those are the only things you can think of, don’t worry! That’s still a good place to start.
Start by writing down the things you didn’t like about previous employers, as well as the parts you really valued. There’s no wrong answer here—so from big things to small details, write it all down on your list. This will help you immediately identify what you’re looking for in an organization, as well as the things you’re trying to stay far, far away from.
2. Do your research.
Now comes the part when you put on your detective hat and do a little digging. The Internet will be your best friend when you’re trying to familiarize yourself with a company’s culture before ever walking through their office doors.
And where exactly should you look for these culture clues? Start with the most obvious place first: the company’s website. Read through their copy and blog. Do they use formal, direct language? Or is it casual, conversational, and maybe even a little humorous? This can be a big indicator of what sort of atmosphere a workplace is trying to cultivate.
Next, turn your attention toward their social media outlets. Are they sharing photos of their team’s Thursday afternoon chili cook-off or Halloween costume contest on Instagram? Or are their social media accounts strictly reserved for company related announcements and product launches?
A site like Glassdoor is another spot to check in order to find some insider information about what you can expect about a company. However, remember to take the reviews you read with a grain of salt—many of them are written by scorned employees.
Finally, you can never fail with personal connections. Send a quick message to a current or previous company employee on Twitter or LinkedIn and ask if he or she would be willing to have a quick conversation with you about the organization in general. If you get a yes to your request for a chat? You’ll be armed with some pretty powerful and helpful information heading into your interview!
3. Ask questions.
You know that part at the end of a job interview when the hiring manager asks if you have any questions, and you just stare across the table blankly with your mouth hanging open? That’s the perfect opportunity to speak up and get your burning company culture questions answered!
So yes, you can definitely ask your interviewer about what it’s like to work for that particular organization. Simple questions like, “What three words would you use to describe the culture here?” or “What’s your favorite part about working for this company?” can reveal a lot about what it’s really like behind closed doors. Still not sure what to ask? Try this article for help.
4. Prioritize your values.
What does my dream company culture look like? Well, I could come and go as I please, as long as I was getting the work done. My boss would genuinely listen to and value all of my ideas and suggestions. My co-workers would all be friendly with one another, without ever falling into the office gossip trap. The kitchen would have an endless rotation of pizza and tacos, and the conference room would double as a doggy daycare. Oh, and they’d give me two months of paid vacation with an obscenely generous salary.
What are my chances of finding all of those things with one employer? Slim to none—believe me, I’ve looked. This is why it’s so important to know which aspects of a company’s culture you value most.
You may not be the one conducting the actual interview, but you’re still trying to determine whether or not company is a good fit for you.
Is it an open communication style or a flexible schedule? Zone in on the top spots on your priority list, and ensure a potential employer at least checks those boxes. Unfortunately, this is reality, you can’t have everything you want but a few are certainly doable.
When you’re hunting for a new job, you already know that the employer is trying to ascertain whether or not you’re a good fit for the position. But you should also look at the process through a similar lens. You may not be the one conducting the actual interview, but you’re still trying to determine whether or not company is a good fit for you.
Keep these tips in mind to figure out whether you and a potential employer are a perfect match or just a recipe for disaster. After all, it’s a good thing to know before actually accepting an offer.