6 Ways to Get to Know a Company’s Culture
When looking for a new job, it is important that both the business and your future coworkers meet your criteria for good company culture. The factors that makeup company culture have a large impact on how much you enjoy a job. It is not unheard of for employees to prioritize jobs with better company culture, even if the job does not pay as much as another offer.
For instance, you may apply for jobs at two different museums. Both have the same position with the same duties, but both jobs may have a completely different feel.
One may be full of snooty employees you would not get along with or the company may want you to perform most of your duties alone in an office instead of with a team. The other hypothetical job has staff that is down-to-earth and you would be working at different premises on different days with a team of employees.
When you are applying for a new job, take the time to research what the company culture is like. Once you understand the company culture, you can decide whether the job is worth applying for. How you appraise the company culture may change depending on the job, but there are six universal tips to follow.
What is company culture?
Before you make any decisions regarding company culture, it is important you understand what makes up company culture. Simply put, company culture is a company’s personality. A company is made up of many different parts, including:
- The employees.
- The bosses and other upper management members.
- The values, goals and rules of the company.
- The physical space where the company is located.
Some companies have a traditional, formal style of management, whereas others are more team-based, with employees participating equally on all levels. Some companies may be more relaxed in their rules and regulations than other companies, which also impacts company culture.
Why is company culture important?
The environment you work in, the people you work with and the company’s rules can all make a difference as to how enjoyable your work is. If you are stuck in a small office with no air-conditioning alongside people you do not get along with, you are not likely to enjoy your work.
If you dread going to work every day, your work stress is likely to bleed into your personal life. If you are unhappy with the work culture, it becomes much harder to perform your job. If things go poorly, you may not even be able to use your job as a future reference once you find a job with a better company culture.
Even if you are using job placement services, company culture is about whether you are a good fit for the company. When your values and needs are catered for by the workplace, you develop better relationships with your colleagues and become more productive.
Six Ways to Learn About A Company’s Culture
A common misconception is that you are unable to learn about a company culture until you actually start your job. You may get a better idea of company culture once you start a job, but there is still plenty you can learn before committing to a job. Before you accept a job, take the time to learn more about company culture by following these six steps:
1. Do your homework.
Before you attend an interview or before you even applied for the job, research the company online. Many companies have websites containing the company mission statement and core company values.
Do not restrict yourself to the company website alone. Look through the prospective company’s social media posts and videos in order to get a better understanding of what is important to the company. If the company has a brochure, be sure to look through it as well.
Likewise, you can check GlassDoor.com for additional information from other prospective hires as well as current and former employees. You may also be able to find details about wages and upward mobility.
2. Arrive early for your interview.
By arriving early, you get the chance to see how the company’s employees interact with one another. Soak up the environment and be attentive to how staff members are functioning. Sitting in the lobby for half an hour allows you to get a good feel for the place.
3. Ask questions.
When you are attending the interview, be sure to ask questions about the company’s policy on subjects you want to know more about. Stick to specific questions, rather than generic ones, so you gain the best understanding of the reality of the company’s culture.
For instance, rather than asking, “Are employees allowed to work from home?” ask, “Do people on the team I would be working with work regularly work outside the office?” This causes your interviewer to give details to your question rather than a flat “yes” or “no” response. Other questions you may consider include:
- When and how do employees give and receive feedback?
- What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
- How often are leaders/managers in the office?
4. Speak to employees.
By talking to potential colleagues, you get a better understanding of the company’s culture. Ask them what it is like to work for the company. When doing so, notice how long it takes them to answer. Hesitation is a sign they may be on their best manners and not telling you the truth.
5. Speak to outside sources.
It is also important to speak with outside sources, such as clients, suppliers and so forth in order to get a more objective view of the company culture. You could talk to former employees, auditors, lawyers, consultants and contractors as well. The more people connected to the company you can talk to, the more awareness you gain about the company’s culture.
Anyone who is not currently affiliated with the company is more likely to give you an honest answer, although finding outside sources is not always easy. If you are unsure where to find outside sources, consider checking on social media.
6. Ask if you can do a test run.
Once you are offered the job, you can ask your employer if you could spend some time in the workplace before you actually start work. If the environment is not as suitable for you as you had hoped, it is not too late to back out. When doing a test run, look at how your potential colleagues are interacting with each other, what their moods and manners are like and how they address issues they are dealing with.
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