Company Culture – Part 3 How do I assess the culture of a company I may want to work for?
How you fit into a company’s workplace culture can ultimately impact your overall job satisfaction and happiness. When you find the right fit for your values and goals, you enjoy going to work. If the culture is not a good match, the job can be a daily grind and cause undue stress and dissatisfaction.
First, you need to figure out your preferences and priorities. Is having a fun and a casual workplace important to you? Do you work best in teams or by yourself? Are you irritated when micromanaged by your boss, or do you welcome the structure? Do you thrive at a fast pace, or do you do your best when working on your own timeline? Maybe you don’t mind burning the midnight oil, but you can’t stand disorganization, or maybe you’re looking for a regular schedule with no overtime. Whatever it may be, knowing exactly what you’re looking for will help guide you as you apply and interview for jobs. Just because a job pays more doesn’t mean you will be happier there.
Next, do your research. Check to see if there are reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Salary.com or LinkedIn to see what current and former employees are saying. You may find out there is high turnover from an unhappy workforce. Keep in mind if you are looking at a large company, reviews from an overworked and underappreciated marketing department may have no bearing on what it’s like to work for the engineering or maintenance team. You can also ask others in the industry what they have heard about the company you are looking into, maybe they know someone who has worked there. And don’t forget to go through the company’s social media to get a better picture of its engagement with clients and employees. Check out their posts for insight into the company’s values and sense of humor. When looking at a company website, don’t forget that just because an organization says it values something doesn’t make it so.
Once you have an interview with the company, the real work begins. The interview process itself can give a lot of insight into an organization. Is the process chaotic and disorganized? That probably isn’t an anomaly. Is it very by-the-book, with no corners cut? The company might be bureaucratic or have little leeway for individual personality. Prepare questions for the interviewer that cover company culture in addition to the nitty gritty of the new position. Ask to speak with others you’d be working with to see what they like about the company. If there’s no chance to have discussions with your future coworkers during the interview process, that may speak volumes. Here are a few questions to ask the interviewer:
What do you like about working here? The answer may provide insight into the person as a manager, and into the company itself.
What time do people generally come in and leave for the day? The official schedule might be 9 to 5, but the reality could be quite different.
What might have helped the last person in this position succeed? You will learn what traits the hiring manager is prioritizing, and you’ll see how they talk about past team members.
How is this company different from the competition? The answer may tell you a lot about how the company views itself and its values. What are employees proud of? What does the leadership prioritize above all else?
What would you change about this company if you could? Whether you get a canned answer of, “nothing, I love it here” or an honest answer on how to change it for the better will tell you if they feel they can be themselves.
Here are a few things you may ask depending on what you are looking for:
How do you help your employees succeed?
How are performance goals set?
How much work is done in teams versus individual work?
How do you typically communicate with your staff?
You get the picture. Knowing what you are looking for will help you ask the right questions to make sure you will get what you need.
Finally, take into consideration your wants and needs and match them up with what the company can offer. Does it all fit together, or are there some red flags? Think about how you felt in the interview. Did you feel excited about getting hired, or do you feel blasé about working for the company? Listen to your gut, it can be the biggest indicator of whether a company’s culture would be a good fit for you or not. Taking the extra time to evaluate and plan could make all the difference in finding your happy workplace.
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