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5 Ways to Learn About a Company’s Culture


Cultural fit is one of the top make-or-break considerations when rejecting applicants and workers claim that the reason for leaving a position is corporate culture incompatibility.

So there’s nothing worse than beginning a new job only to find out a few weeks later that your beliefs or aspirations are just not compatible with the company culture. You will get a better understanding of what the atmosphere of an organization is like and make a more informed decision about taking the job by actively seeking responses before and during the interview process. But there are other ways too! Keep on reading to find them out.

1. Do your homework rigorously

Looking at the company’s website is the first move. Do they speak about their culture directly? Is it their beliefs or their purpose that they mention? Is there something that offers insight into what it would be like to work there? As what is not said is always just as important as what is, make note of both what you see and what you don’t see.

Next is to check out the company’s feedback to see how workers describe working there. A word of wisdom- do not accept as face value anything individuals tell. Know that some individuals are going to totally hate working in a business and some are going to admire every aspect of working there. Consistency is what you want to look for. Are more people in the business happy or unhappy? In more than one analysis, is the same criticism mentioned? Are any of these things listed to you many times as deal breakers?

In order to see if the company has been in the news recently, you can also check industry publications. That could give you an indication of whether things are changing for better or worse within the company. Look for both positive and negative references to disruptions, such as a change in leadership, projected growth, strikes by employees, or layoffs.

2. Know your ‘neighbors’

Your happiness at work can depend on your relationship with your boss. Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder and the author of It’s Not the How or the What but the Who, says that workers who don’t get along with their managers are as good as dead, especially in start-ups or small private, family-owned companies.” So you need to build as profound an understanding as possible of what makes this person tick and what it would be like to work with them before you sign on. John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You Love, recommends attempting to have a successful and lengthy discussion “about their vision for the organization” with the prospective boss. Aim to “project forward,” he says. Ask,’ What would it look like to excel here? “And say, ‘What do you want to congratulate me on in my six-month review? If your prospective boss shies away from having this talk and getting to know you better consider it a “signal of danger.” 

3. Don’t shy away from asking questions

The secret of asking questions in an interview about business culture is not to ask explicitly, but rather to ask questions that encourage the hiring manager to shed light on the practice of day-to-day work. Never ask a question with just ‘yes’ or no’ which can be answered.

Ask how teams communicate and connect to find out about everyday work. Ask how they have made working from home effectively and whether flexible work practices can continue post-COVID to find out about a company’s work policy. To find out whether a business actively encourages the growth of workers, inquire about the learning and development opportunities they have. Ask how many teams get together outside of working hours to find out how the organization provides a sense of community.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

4. Pay attention to details

While not entirely indicative of the culture of a company, your treatment can give you a glimpse at what employees do, and not just what they say, throughout your interview process. Have you felt respected? How did you feel about talking to hiring managers or anyone else you spoke to about your communication? Have you been able to speak to a broad range of employees? If you feel uncomfortable with any of your interactions, you don’t need to write off the entire company, but if you’re faced with a job offer, it’s something to consider.

2. Be early for your interview 

Getting to your interview early gives you an opportunity to experience the life of the workplace. Although this is not a sure-fire way to assess culture, you can see how pleased (or unhappy) workers appear to be, get a sense of the office’s general vibe, and watch how people interact. This observation alone may not be decision-making, but with everything else you have experienced, it’s another useful point of reference to factor in.

Bottom Line 

In your lifetime, you will spend a lot of time working – about 90,000 hours! You should do your utmost to find a community in the workplace that makes you feel comfortable, empowered, and happy to come to work. It’s good to have a job with a high salary and a prestigious title, but it can make all the difference to great business culture.




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