How to determine if a company’s culture is right for you

How to determine if a company's culture is right for you
Before accepting the job offer, you’ve carefully considered the title, the job description and the salary to make sure that the position aligns with your skills, interests, and career goals. But did you consider the impact the company’s culture could have on your satisfaction with your new job?

The importance of cultural fit is often underestimated when people are embarking on a new job, which can be a costly mistake when there’s a discrepancy between personal work preferences and the existing company culture. If the fit isn’t right, you may find yourself job hunting again – much sooner than you anticipated.

But how can you actively and deliberately figure out whether an environment is right for you?

Conduct company research

First check out the company website to see their mission statement and get a feel for their culture and core values. Pay attention to the language and the photos they use on their career pages, which will give you an idea of how the company wants to portray itself. Take a look at the company’s social media presence, too, as that can help you learn about their employee and company engagement. 

Visit sites like Glassdoor to see how employee reviews stack up against the company’s portrayal of itself. You won’t hear about a lack of diversity from a hiring manager, but an anonymous employee might have something to say about it. While this first-hand feedback can give you insight into what it’s like to work at a company, though, remember to consider that it might be biased or resentful.

You can also reach out to present and former employees on LinkedIn. Whether their views are positive or negative, you’ll find that most people are willing to share some insights about the company’s culture.

Ask the right questions

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 in the company and demonstrate your diligence, attention to detail, and care for the future of the organization – all 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 personal, professional, and financial objectives.  

Pose 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? 
  • Does the company encourage and support employee participation in community and philanthropic endeavors?

Keep an open mind 

Take the time to assemble all of the information and observations you’ve made before, during and after the hiring process into a cohesive picture, and think about the aspects of the culture that make you want – or not want – to work for that company. Think back to your deal breakers – the cultural values that are non-negotiable – and make sure the new opportunity passes the test.

At the same time, 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 limit themselves to only 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.

No matter the environment, there will be times in any company culture when you’ll face challenges and experience some doubt. But by seeking out a company whose overall values and core beliefs align with yours, you’ll be more likely to find long-term satisfaction.