You spend a lot of time at work – sometimes more than 40 hours a week. In fact, if you’re spending about 50 hours a week at the office that’s 30 percent of your total time in the week – just working. Dealing with coworkers, office politics, and supervisors – the list goes on. Many companies, when they reach a certain growth mark, begin to focus more on the vision and culture of the company. This top-down culture trickle usually proves to be positive change that gives both new and loyal employees a foundation of values to lean on.
However, if the culture isn’t a good fit for you or if there isn’t any at all, a job can become paralyzing quickly and lead to toxic attitudes that infect everyone they come in contact with. The best strategy is to do your research before you even apply at a company. How, you ask?
A little preliminary fieldwork
For the unemployed, the tendency to become desperate for work can become overwhelming. The job market is tough and after weeks/months of searching you may be inclined to just take the first offer that drops in your lap. That’s all fine and dandy – just make sure you’re only throwing your hat in the ring with companies you really want to work for. In order to determine this some digging is required as well as some self-reflection.
What environment do you thrive in?
Are you somebody that enjoys close-knit community culture – social mixers, weekend retreats, ropes course, team-building, etc.? Or maybe you’re more reserved and shy away from family barbecues and trust-falls. Either way, the more clear your picture of your ideal work environment the easier it will be to identify it when you find it.
Where to look for culture clues
- Explore the company’s website hints about their culture. While some companies have entire sections/pages dedicated to their “core values” others may have it hidden in a few lines on the “About Us” page or buried in their job openings.
- Glassdoor and Salary.com contain current and past employee company reviews. While you should take these reviews with a grain of salt, try to pick up on common threads between reviews to determine the common pros/cons to the company’s culture, or lack thereof.
- A company’s social network profiles (particularly LinkedIn and Facebook), while groomed and tailored for clients, can shed some light on the number of people employed there, what their skills and backgrounds are, and potentially what their working on right now.
During the interview
So you did your homework, applied, got an interview – now what? Well, your investigation isn’t over; there is still more valuable information to attain. Don’t we don’t want you showing up, armed with questions, and ready to explode. There is always a time, commonly near the close of the interview, that a hiring manager, department manager, or interviewer will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
- Ask specifically about the company’s culture. Just throw it out there – ask them to describe it and what working at the company is like. Questions like: Their favorite part about working there? Least favorite part? How many hours a week do they spend at work a week? Do they hang out together after work?
- Ask what it means to be a “team player,” and what it takes to get bonuses/promoted.
- Does the company offer performance or responsibility-based rewards?
- Inquire, but don’t brood over, things like benefits, remote work, 401k (or lack thereof), and perks.
With any luck some of these research and interview tips will help you figure out if a company’s culture is a perfect fit for you.