How Candidates Can Vet a Prospective Employer’s Culture

How Candidates Can Vet a Prospective Employer’s Culture
As the World of Work continues to evolve, and the millennial generation rises in the ranks of the corporate world, more and more people want to work for companies whose beliefs and priorities align with their own. 

Among other cultural considerations, diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) are front and center today as individuals contemplate a job change — and these topics are equally important for hiring managers to explore. Our CEO, Bert Miller, has developed the Individual Scorecard to help recruiters and hiring managers gain a clearer sense of an individual’s personal, professional, and financial objectives. The Individual Scorecard recognizes that in order to make a great hire, organizations need to understand a candidate’s priorities, values, and perspectives in all three categories. 

But how can candidates get the same clear picture of their prospective employer?

Knowing that you want to talk about DE&I with a recruiter or hiring manager is one thing. Knowing how to approach the topic is often an entirely different story. Before you walk into your next interview, read on for my advice on how you and your prospective employer can determine a mutual fit:

Do Your Research

The first step in any application or interview process should always be to conduct research on the organization. Their culture and core values are important factors to consider. 

At MRI, our international community is one of our most important features — members gain access to a valuable diversity of thought when they join our Network. We crafted our directory page in such a way that celebrates and emphasizes our international footprint and breadth of perspective. It highlights how proud we are of our global community.

As you conduct your research, LinkedIn’s search capabilities are especially helpful. You can search an organization’s current and past employees to understand how each team is composed, which departments have seen higher turnover, and how team members have been developed and supported to move into their next great opportunity. 

As workplace transparency takes a firmer hold, platforms like GlassDoor can also provide an inside view into a company’s culture and corporate dynamics — but be sure to take this information with a grain of salt. Like any review site, GlassDoor is bound to attract the loudest voices, and since the site isn’t regulated or fact-checked it doesn’t always paint a fair picture. Focus instead on identifying questions you can ask throughout your interviews to build your own informed opinion.

Pose Questions with Curiosity 

Your research not only offers you a clear view of the company, but it also arms you with questions and observations that highlight your interest and investment in the company. When approached with the right tone, these questions highlight your diligence, attention to detail, and care for the future of the organization — qualities of a great employee. As you prepare for these conversations, consider how the questions you pose will shape your interviewer’s perspective of your Individual Scorecard — your personal, professional, and financial objectives.  

Conversations around DE&I can feel sensitive, so it’s important to approach them with the best intentions. During your interview process, focus on discussing a company’s DE&I efforts with a sense of curiosity, and in the spirit of conducting your due diligence, as you would any other facet of the business. 

Instead of cornering an organization into feeling like they don’t meet your expectations, ask more open-ended questions that spark a natural, honest discussion. Ask things like:

  • How would you describe your current organization and senior leadership team?
  • How long have your senior leaders been a part of the company and what range of perspectives do they bring to the table?  
  • What attracted you to the organization? Why do you stay?
  • How do you celebrate as an organization? What are some examples of recent achievements and who contributed to those milestones?
  • What sorts of professional development opportunities do you offer? 
  • In a typical year, what events do you host and what are those events like? If I were to attend your holiday party, for instance, what would it look and feel like?  

Stay Open to Different Perspectives 

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between points of view that challenge your own and values that completely conflict with yours. It isn’t ideal for anyone’s growth — personally or professionally — to live in an echo chamber of confirming opinions and perspectives. If you’re passionate about contributing to an organization’s culture and effecting change, you may find that you can consider a position with a company that needs improvement if you think you can enrich the company’s positioning, brand, and overall culture. 

When I interviewed with MRI’s executive team, I saw from the start that they were passionate about the organization’s culture and diversity — and that they trusted their team wholeheartedly with this mission. Early on I sensed that both Bert and Joe Mullings, our Chief Vision Officer, trusted their team wholeheartedly. This feeling of trust was critical — I knew that they would empower and support me to lead the initiatives on my plate. As a result, I have found a home with a culture that I can both embrace and enhance. 

At the end of the day, a company’s culture is largely a reflection of the individuals who care to define it, nurture it, and develop it. Even among companies whose values align with your own, there will always be opportunity for progress and change. Once you’ve determined if an organization feels like the right fit for you, keep your eyes peeled for these opportunities, and work to help to continue shaping its culture for the better.