One of the biggest mistakes jobseekers can make is failing to research the company culture of a prospective employer before their job interview. Here are some tips on why doing so is important and how to do it right.
Why you need to research a company’s culture
The most obvious reason is to ensure you are accepting a job at a company where you will both be comfortable and fit in.
While it’s understandable that someone may desperately need employment to pay the bills, sacrificing your happiness or suffering under stressful conditions isn’t always a good compromise – no matter how desperate you are.
Before agreeing to accept a new position, you really have to think about the long haul and that’s why pre-employment research about the company’s culture is vital.
Every company has its own style and way of doing things, and it’s important to know whether their style and yours will be compatible.
At the worst extreme, you could end up accepting a position at a company whose culture is something you find intolerable or conflicts with your personal values.
Ways to evaluate a company’s culture
1. Reading the company “about us” and/or “mission statement.”
While some of these can be meticulously crafted PR pieces, if not somewhat boilerplate within their industry – they often can be revelatory, too. It’s worth reading these to see if anything jumps out at you.
2. Scour the company’s social media accounts
This is a good way to see what the company is up to you and how they interact with the community at-large.
3. Look for reviews by current or former employees
Websites like Glassdoor.com are a great source for getting honest opinions, comments and reviews both good and bad from current and former employees of a specific company. These often offer insight to what working for the company is like.
4. Ask to interview an employee or two
Ask if you can interview an employee or two to ask them why they like working for the company. A company may not grant this request, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. If you are able to interview someone, it can be extremely helpful.
5. Ask about the company dress code
A company’s culture is often reflected in its dress code (as well as how it treats offenders).
6. Ask about behavioral reward/punishment actions are
Inquire about what sorts of behavior the company rewards and what it punishes, and what those punishments are for various offenses. Naturally, you may have to preface these questions by stating that your objective is to merely understand the company culture and not that you intend to break or challenge any company rules.
Other things you should consider
All companies have their own “cliques” or “pockets” of culture-within-culture of the company. The culture of one particular department may be vastly different than that of another. This can vary due to what that particular department does or dependent on who is supervising it. You may or may not be able to dig into this, but just be aware that these company sub-cultures commonly exist.