Oftentimes, it’s easier to identify a bad company to work for than a good one. Red flags like a pattern of not-so-great Glassdoor reviews, rude interviewers, and a high turnover rate stick out like sore thumbs, indicating that you might want to steer clear. But what happens if a company doesn’t exhibit any of these common warning signs? Does that mean you'll enjoy working there?
Fortunately, you don’t have to go into the decision-making process blind. In addition to the glimpse into a company’s culture that Glassdoor reviews, salaries, and interviews provide, there are a number of factors you can look out for during the interview process that will hint at whether or not you’ll enjoy working at a company. We reached out to a handful of career experts to get their thoughts on what makes a great place to work — here are a few of the top signs that you’ve picked a winner.
1. A Smooth Interview Process
The interview process tends to be a great predictor of how well you would be treated as an employee. If a company can’t even provide a good experience long enough to convince you to join their organization, how can you expect that to change once you’re in it for the long haul? Conversely, a company that goes out of their way to delight you during the interview process will likely bring that same amount of dedication towards keeping their current employees happy.
In particular, take note of “if everyone seems like [they have] been apprised of prior steps in the interview process, every interviewer is asking you new and unique interview questions at each stage and they all seem to be working together with the other team members to get to know you,” says Jill Santopietro Panall, HR consultant and owner of 21Oak HR Consulting, LLC. “You want to work on a team where members value each other's input, and what better place to show that than in the interview process?”
Pay attention to the interviewers’ temperament and tone as well. “How enthusiastic are the interviewers when they talk about the company's mission, vision and work? If you hear excitement, optimism and joy, this may be a sign that they actually enjoy the work they do,” says Mary Grace Gardner, career strategist at The Young Professionista. “Remember, though, as much as you as the interviewee, are preoccupied with putting your best foot forward, the interviewers are also doing the same. Pay extra attention to if multiple people are enthusiastic about the work and if they maintain this enthusiasm throughout the interview.”
2. Investment in Employee Development
Some of the best employers to work for are those that truly invest in their employees’ careers and help nurture their professional development throughout their tenure at the company. Not only is this a great resume builder — it’ll help ensure that your company remains a place where you want to stick around for a while.
“Taking a page from the book Help Them Grow, Or Watch Them Go, a company with a great culture focuses on growing and developing their staff. If you hear stories about employees staying at the company for years and getting promoted into different roles or if you hear about a training program to keep employees' skills up to date, this may be an indication that the company is willing to invest in its own people,” says Gardner.
Hint: To hear what employees have to say about their company’s growth opportunities, you can also click on the “Rating Trends” section of a company’s Glassdoor profile and look at their “Career Opportunities” score.
3. Taking Employee Feedback Seriously
Even the best of companies are going to have missteps along the way — that’s to be expected. But rather than simply accepting these shortcomings, top-notch companies will look to fix them by seeking feedback from the folks that know best: their employees. Even if issues can’t be resolved immediately, the fact that a company turns to their employees for advice is a sign that you’ll be able to have a say in the company's direction, and will be able to take pride in their mission and feel a significant degree of ownership in your role.
“No company is perfect, but a company that implements employee ideas to improve the work environment or product shows that the company listens to its employees,” Gardner says.
In addition, “look to see if the company encourages participating from employees as to outside events and leadership,” adds Wendi Weiner, Resume Writer & Career Transition Coach.
4. Fostering Strong Working Relationships
As the poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island” — and this is especially true in the workforce. Very rarely do you operate in a silo, completely independent from the rest of your coworkers, so it’s important that you like working with them. You don’t have to necessarily be best friends with them, but you should at the least enjoy collaborating with them as part of a team. And while much of that is dependent on your coworkers' work habits and personalities themselves, there’s a lot that a company as a whole can do to ensure that it’s fostering good working relationships.
“A great question to ask is if the company participates in community service and other outside programs for team-building and stronger cohesiveness,” Weiner says.
5. A Vibrant Office
If you haven’t yet gotten a tour of the office by the late stages of the interview process, go ahead and request one — it can provide invaluable insight into the day-to-day office life and the larger company culture overall.
“Look at the actual work areas — is there a lot of decoration and personal embellishment or is it all cold, gray, uniform cubicles with no life to them? I want to see — in the physical space — how people are reacting to being there and see that the company is encouraging them to be their authentic selves at work. It doesn't have to be a total, slobby mess, but it should look like real, unique, interesting people work there, not robots,” says Santopietro Panall. “It's also nice to see team projects and team achievements being celebrated. Even if it's a corporate Spartan race trophy that's covered in dried mud, that evidence of team pride is nice to see.”
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check the expressions of the employees who work there.
“As you walk through the parking lot, see people in the lobby, or pass by [in the] office, observe whether or not people look happy. If you see smiles, energized conversations and people pausing to think, these signs may all point to a company with employees who actually want to be there, which in turn, makes for a better work environment,” Gardner advises.