Posted on 10 Feb 21by
Accepting a company’s job offer when you know very little about the company's culture is like saying "yes" to a marriage proposal from someone you just met. Knowledge of your partner is crucial for a successful relationship—personal and professional.
Company culture is a primary factor leading to job satisfaction. Liking your work or loving your paycheck may not be enough if the company's environment is unpleasant or unwelcoming. Before you accept an offer, try to learn as much as you can about the company's culture. This will help you twofold: not only will you find out if the culture is a good fit, but you also will be more prepared to ask important questions during the interview.
What's the company's reputation?
A good first step in the culture assessment process is to see what others have to say about your potential employer. Search the company name to see what online reference pop up. Check out the company's social pages and look at their Google Business Profile. You can also network to find out if any of your friends, family, or acquaintances know an employee at the company. This is a great way to get the inside scoop—and maybe even a referral, if all works out!
Glassdoor is another resource that allows potential employees to acquire inside information before deciding to work at a company. The site has thousands of reviews by employees who rate a company's salary, benefits, work environment, and more. But a word of caution: People are much more likely to put energy into a review when they are unhappy, not happy, so be mindful that there is usually another side to the story. Also, if there are only a few reviews, not all employees’ voices will be represented.
Maximize "your turn" during the interview
During an interview, it’s important to pay attention to the questions that the interviewer(s) ask. When it’s your turn to ask questions, take advantage of this opportune moment to probe into the company's culture. You can base your questions on the position for which you’re interviewing, as well as ask general questions relevant for all employees, including those that will help you assess the company's benefits offerings.
If you are seeking a management type role, you can ask:
How are decisions made?
How much will I be involved in the process?
Will I help with interviews for my direct reports?
Can I meet other colleagues with whom I’ll be working closely?
If you are applying for an entry level position, ask:
What type of training do you provide?
Do you offer any mentorship programs or supplemental educational opportunities (e.g. seminars, classes, books)?
What have people done in this role after they left (i.e. were they internally promoted or did they leave to work for a different company)?
More general questions to determine company culture include:
How would you describe the company's culture?
What are your expectations of new employees?
What does a typical day/week look like?
How will my performance be evaluated? How often?
What are the key traits everyone needs to excel in this company?
What are the company values?
Do promotions occur internally? How often?
What do you most and least like about working for this company?
Are employees recognized for excellent results and accomplishments? If so, how?
Evaluate your first impressions:
If you've had an in-person interview, evaluate the overall first impression you have of the company.
How did you feel in the company's physical environment?
Was the people you met friendly?
Was everyone appropriately dressed?
How did co-workers interact?
Was the interviewer prepared?
Did you feel at ease or under fire during the interview?
If the interview was virtual, consider if the interviewer was prepared and attentive, if they gave you adequate time to speak and ask questions, if they were adept with the technology used for the interview, and if they approached the meeting in a professional manner ... even if they were calling you from home.
Other signs to heed are the time it takes to schedule interviews and how long the decision-making process takes. If it took an unreasonable number of interviews and length of time for a decision to be made about hiring you, this could be an indicator of the speed with which other actions take place.
Read our tips on how to assess your worth.
Get experience in the trenches
For some, the ideal situation is to take the company for a test drive by doing temporary work or volunteering. In temp-to-hire positions, you and the company have the opportunity to make sure it’s a good match before any commitments are made.
You can also consider job shadowing with an employee in the company you’re interested in. Ask the employer if they are willing to let you shadow the person in the role you’re interested in, or a similar one, to really get an inside view.
Are you a match?
If you've done your detective work, you'll know well before the job offer if you'll jive well with the company culture. If there are major differences, you'll want to seriously consider how important those differences are to you before entering into a professional relationship with a company.
Not sure what type of company you'd like to work for? Consider some temp roles to explore a variety of options commitment-free! Learn more about the jobs Nelson has available.