Determine the Company Culture Before Your Interview
Going through a job search is most decidedly a lot of work. It can be exciting to think about the possibilities that lie before you, but it can also induce anxiety to wonder if you’ll make the right choice in accepting a position. But hold on: Can you determine the company culture before you even interview? Knowing if the company will be a good fit at the application stage can save you a lot of time and trepidation.
What’s So Important About Company Culture?
In a 2022 article, Forbes shared that 35% of Americans would turn down a job—even if the position were a perfect fit with the goals—if the culture didn’t resonate with them. On the flip side, the same article stated that more than 90% of hiring managers feel that a candidate’s fit with the culture carries as much weight, if not more, as the skills and talents they bring to the position.
Those are some big numbers and illustrate how important it is to determine company culture when you’re on the lookout for a new position. A strong culture can increase employee engagement, boost productivity, reduce turnover, and make work fun. Let’s go through seven ways you can assess the culture of your potential new company home prior to getting to the interview stage.
Tip 1: Do Your Research
At Resume and Career Services, we’re big about research. It’s what makes the difference between a successful job search and one that’s a complete bust. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that our first suggestion is to launch a research campaign.
Research the company by looking at its website and social media platforms. Look for a mission statement, vision statement, and company values. Review how the company presents itself in its messaging. If it’s telling you something, listen; don’t sweep those trepidations under the rug.
While you’re reviewing the website, keep an eye open for information about the company’s work environment, employees, organizations or events in which employees or the company participate, and anything that provides some insight into what it’s like to work there. Companies that put a focus on culture will proudly share it everywhere, which is good for you. And if there’s no hint of what the culture’s like, that could also be a sign.
Tip 2: Read Employee Reviews and Testimonials
In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to conduct covert searches on what employees really think about their managers and the company in general. To determine the company culture, head over to Glassdoor, Indeed, or Comparably. On these sites, current and former employees are encouraged to share their feedback anonymously. While one disgruntled employee may not speak for the masses, look instead for patterns. Are employees generally positive or negative?
Remember that reviews are subjective, and even one person’s view of a company can change depending on if it’s their first day, last day, or somewhere in between. Take a holistic approach and a broad stroke to how you evaluate the information you find.
Tip 3: Network with the Company’s Employees
While employee reviews can give you insight into the company culture, speaking directly to a few people who currently or previously worked there can illuminate so much more. LinkedIn is an ideal location to conduct this research. You can also tap into your network and see if anyone you know has connections familiar with the company.
Having candid conversations with employees who have firsthand experience with the company and its culture can provide you with honest and detailed information. Be sure to ask them about the company’s values, team dynamics, and work-life balance, as well as any challenges they have or had while working there. As with reviews, don’t rely on just one person; instead, talk to a cross-section of people to learn varying viewpoints.
Tip 4: Assess Work-Life Balance
As we’ve mentioned before, work-life balance is crucial for a healthy, fulfilling career. While you’re looking up current and past employees on LinkedIn, see if they have other interests listed on their profiles. Are they giving back to the community in volunteer roads? Participating in local boards or industry groups? You can also ask these questions directly when speaking with current and past employees.
A well-written job description can also tell you a bit about a company’s work-life balance. Do they offer flexible working hours, a hybrid environment, or remote options? Do benefits include time to give back, such as a companywide volunteer day? Are there wellness programs? Look for all these components in the job description and even the website.
Tip 5: Consider Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are vital components of a healthy company culture. Many job descriptions will discuss the company’s commitment to DEI initiatives, and you may find references to the company’s position on its website as well. The benefits of a culturally diverse organization are many, including a focus on creativity, empathy, and a broad range of perspectives. Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion tend to be more innovative and better equipped to adapt to a changing world.
Tip 6: Consider Your Alignment with the Company
No matter how you determine the company culture, knowing what it is only gives you part of the puzzle. The other component is how you will fit in that culture. You may learn that the company is all about having dogs in the office, keeping a stocked bar, and playing ping-pong every afternoon, but if you’re the type who likes to focus on work at the office, that culture may not resonate with you. Likewise, if you’re passionate about sustainability and community involvement, working for a company that has neither of those topics on its agenda could feel disingenuous.
Companies that share your values are more likely to provide a fulfilling work experience, so once you determine the company culture, ensure that it fits with your goals for your next work home.
Tip 7: Trust Your Gut
At the end of all your research and communication about the culture of a particular company that interests you, it all comes down to one thing: How do you feel about the company? Your gut feeling can be a powerful indicator of whether the company culture is a good fit for you. If something doesn’t feel right or raises concerns, listen to those feelings and explore them further. Job satisfaction is not only about salary and benefits; it’s also about finding a workplace where you feel valued, respected, and supported.
Why You Should Determine the Company Culture
Your time is valuable. There’s no sense applying for positions that don’t resonate with you. Unless you are open and ready to ask those hard questions during the interview, if you learn something prior to the interview that doesn’t jibe with your goals, it’s best to pay attention. Consider if you were offered a position and determined you weren’t a good fit at that point. You would then be looking for a new role before you’ve even settled in. It’s always better to do your due diligence and make a smart choice right out of the gate. Luckily, with a little research and soul searching, that task will be easy.
Resume and Career Services offers career support through writing resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles as well as coaching to help you see yourself as a successful contribution to your industry and community. Learn more about our services here.