Career Advice

5 Tips to Researching a Company's Culture

What’s the adage? Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life? Not if you don’t fit in with the company culture.

With two-thirds of HR managers in OfficeTeam’s March 2015 survey citing cultural fit as a reason for losing employees, the adage should read something like: “Find a company you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Clearly, how you fit into a company’s culture and work environment is an important part of being happy and engaged at work, but how do you find a company you love? Where can you find out about a company’s culture before you take the job?

Here are five strategies that will help you learn more about the culture of the companies on your shortlist:

1. Take advantage of the Web.

Nowadays, most people Google the things they aren’t sure about. Why not do the same with the employers that interest you?

Google the company using the search string [organization name AND company culture], then sift through the results. For many companies, you’ll find reviews from sites like Glassdoor written by current and past employees that can give you insight into life at the company.

Next, visit the company’s actual website and have a look around.

Is there a “Life at” section or video that talks about its culture? Is the website written in a conversational or formal style? Are there pictures of actual employees? Are they shown working together or alone? Does the “About Us” page feel like it was thrown together as an after-thought? Or did the organization put time and effort into how it presents itself to the world?

Answers to these questions can tell you a lot about how you’ll fit in at an organization and how much they value their own company culture.

2. Interact with the company on social media.

Is the organization engaging and active on social media, or does it simply interact with its audience when it wants to sell a product or share company achievements?

The best way to find out is to connect with companies on their different social media channels and follow their corporate blogs. When you do, be active about it. Comment, retweet, share and interact with the company to learn more about how hands-on the company is and whether or not it actively engages its audience.

3. Connect with people who’ve worked there.

No matter where you get your job search advice, you’ll always hear about the power of networking. When it comes to researching company culture, networking can save you from choosing a company that doesn’t fit your style.

Find current or past employees and connect with them via social media, email or a phone call and ask them what they think of an organization’s company culture. Let them know you are interested in applying, then ask them what it’s like to work at that company, in their division, and on their team. If possible, find someone with a similar position and ask about how the company culture impacts that particular role.

Most important of all, make an impression on the people you speak with so if you do interview, they’ll remember you in a positive light.

4. Take in your surroundings while you’re waiting.

So, you did your homework and you’re sitting in the lobby of a company you love, waiting to be interviewed. Don’t just sit and think about how you’re going to answer the interviewer’s questions…look around. If you really think about it, you’re experiencing the company culture while you wait.

Does it look like a place you would want to work? Are the employees friendly with one another? With you? Is the environment one you see yourself being able to add value to? Is the vibe you got from your research matching what you see in the office?

Remember, you could be working here, so make sure it’s the kind of environment that would inspire you to do your best work, every day.

5. Ask about it.

If all else fails and you didn’t learn enough before the interview, use the Q&A portion of your interview to discuss the company culture. In order to paint the most reliable picture of the company’s culture, ask the interviewer to give you specific examples.

While it’s great to hear that a company offers remote working and opportunities for advancement, it’s even better to hear about Cathy in marketing who works from home every Friday and how Jim — who used to have your job — rose through the ranks to manage his own team in just two years. These specific examples will give you a more detailed picture of how the company actually integrates its culture into everyday life.

How important is company culture to you during your job search? How do you learn more about a company?