Three Ways to Discover if a Company’s Culture is Right for You

When you read a job description on a website such as Glassdoor, it’s often difficult to foresee exactly what actually taking on that position would be like. Companies, of course, leave a lot out of job postings, because who would want to apply to a company that directly states something negative in their job advertisement? 

If you’re looking for a new position, company culture is very important to consider. In business terms, it can be described as an organization’s shared beliefs and values. Company culture impacts all aspects of your professional life at an organization, from your daily interactions to advancement, job satisfaction, and your mental wellbeing. A Glassdoor survey found that company culture is what differs the most from what job seekers expect when reading a job posting online.

That’s why it’s vital to find a company with a culture that aligns with your own beliefs and values. However, that’s often easier said than done. And now that most businesses are remote, it’s even more challenging to determine a company’s culture. 

So, how can you figure out whether a work environment is right for you? Kristi DePaul of Harvard Business Review spoke with several experts in order to outline some effective ways to do exactly that.

Search Online

You can find most things online these days, and a company’s culture is no exception. It’s all about knowing how to search for it.

The first step is to look at the company’s website and really focus on the words used. Pay extra attention to the language used in job descriptions, analyze words for gender bias, read company reviews on Glassdoor, and have a look at what type of content the company is posting on their social media pages. This digging will provide insight into what to expect when joining a particular organization.

Discover What Lies Beneath

During an interview, take the opportunity to ask telling questions. In other words, show up to your interview with specific questions prepared that will reveal a lot about the company’s culture. One great way to accomplish this is to ask questions that involve a scenario.

For example, instead of asking a question such as, “How would you describe your culture?”, ask something like the following:

  • How does your team handle when someone drops the ball on a project?
  • What specific efforts have been made to create an inclusive culture for underrepresented employees?

There’s still a chance that you will receive vague responses, but these kinds of questions increase the possibility of getting a specific, detailed answer. Ambiguous responses can also tell you a lot about a company. If they can’t provide a detailed response, then they likely have not thought about or addressed the important issue you brought up. 

Try to Connect

If you are already past the interview stage and have accepted the position, it’s not too late to discover your new company’s culture, even if you’re working remotely. This is the time to make the effort to connect with your new team members.

Reach out to others at your company, and ask meaningful questions, such as the following:

  • Are there any handbooks, online trainings, or other resources that can help me get a head start and learn more about the company?
  • What social platforms is the organization active on? 

The onboarding process may be less interactive now that most teams are working from home, and that is why you must take the additional step to nudge your colleagues and ask for further instructions when you need to. It’s easier to gauge the culture at a company when you have information directly from other team members.

* * *

You can read more about How to Find Out if a Company’s Culture is Right for You at Harvard Business Review.