According to Glassdoor career expert Hank Stringer, if a company doesn’t know how to answer a job candidate’s question, “What is your company culture?” – Run! But what happens when a company does have an answer – how do you evaluate if a company’s culture is the best fit for you?
Here’s a check list of questions to ask yourself to help decide if a company, culturally, is the right fit for you:
- Do you believe the answer on company culture? As Hank points out, trust your gut if the answer to the ‘company culture’ question seems rehearsed and not genuine. “My personal pet peeve is the ‘we want to have fun’ culture answer. Not a truthful answer,” says Hank. “If a company says, “we want to successfully execute against our plan and make money which can lead to good times” that’s fine but fun for fun sake doesn’t have a place in business. Make sure the culture definition aligns with the business model and plan. If the company wants a culture that cares about customers, stakeholders, employees, partners and even vendors – you are interviewing with a company that gets it, one that understands the value of culture.
- Are all interviewers in sync on company culture? When you ask about company culture, does each person describe the same values? If employees’ answers are the same, Hank notes, “this is the obvious sign the company is serious about their place of work and employees. It also means that the company has dedicated time and effort into defining their culture. Bravo! Proceed to the next step. If the answers are inconsistent – smile, shake the hand, give thanks and go.”
- How are you treated during the entire interview process? When you walk through the doors of a company, did every person either smile, ask if you had been helped, or give some other form of acknowledgement that you even existed? How you are treated on day one can be a reflection of what your future interactions may be like socially. Consider how social you like to be at work and what helps you get the most enjoyment and be the most productive in your job.
- Is the interview 50/50? Have you and the interviewer(s) been equally sharing the conversation? Don’t forget that an interview is a 2-way conversation – an interview is a chance for a company to get to find out more about a job candidate and vice versa. As Liz Ryan, contributor to Glassdoor, points out, “the two-way street job interview imagines two capable professionals meeting to discuss an employer’s needs, a job candidate’s needs, the employer’s strengths and weaknesses as a place of employment and a jobseeker’s pluses and minuses as a candidate for the role. It’s business, and it’s respectful of all parties.” If an employer doesn’t give you a chance to ask questions, offer feedback or share how your experience relates to the topic at hand, consider whether you’ll be given a chance to speak up if you were an employee.
- Are other employees satisfied? When employees have time to reflect in private, are they still satisfied with their job and their company? One way to find out is to check out the ratings on Glassdoor for a specific company in a specific location. For example the majority of employees at KPMG in New York said the company is ‘OK’ whereas the majority of employees at Ernst & Young in New York say they are satisfied with the company.
- Do you feel a sense of pride? During the interview, when the interviewer is telling you about what it’s like to work at ‘xyz’ company, do you get the impression that they are proud to be a part of it? It’s a good sign if you get the feeling they are proud to say they work for ‘xyz’ company. If not, give pause. Ask the employer what they’re working on – maybe they have a lot on their plate – we all have ups and downs at work, just be cautious as a lack of pride can lead to a negative sentiment around the workplace which may lead to employee turnover.
- Have you seen the top boss? Whether it’s the CEO of a small to mid-size company or a top executive in a department of a large corporation, their presence impacts the culture of the company or department. Having a strong senior leadership presence can help demonstrate to all employees that they are committed to bringing about success for all. This commitment from the upper echelons will likely resonate through the ranks and help build a positive and motivated working environment.
As Wall Street Journal contributor Toddi Gutner notes, “a successful corporate culture results in an engaged and productive workforce, and that translates into a profitable and successful company. Those companies, both large and small, that don’t consider their culture or completely ignore it often have trouble recruiting and retaining top talent. And that could spell trouble as the economic recovery gathers steam.”
So don’t get into a job before considering the often over-looked aspects of company culture as it may impact your happiness and your wallet in the long-term.