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Corporate Culture: Assessing Your Fit

May 03, 2012 by Careerminds

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

An organization’s culture is a vital component in the job search– an employer wants to hire someone who is the right cultural fit, and the job seekers wants to gain employment at a company that is the right cultural fit. The trouble for professionals in career transition, however, is that it’s tough to accurately assess a company’s culture from the outside. Sure, the hiring manager knows all about the corporate culture, and is able to effectively evaluate your fit, but you as the job seeker may have a harder time figuring out what it’s like to be an employee at this company without actually being an employee.
That having been said, there are a few helpful steps one can take to learn more about the corporate culture at any given organization, and, assuming this is where you want to be employed for years to come, it’s as important to you as it is to the employer that you won’t end up struggling through a cultural shock.

  • Check out the company’s website. This is something that you should be doing during the application process, anyway, but it can also serve to teach you a little bit about the company’s culture. Some organizations actually include a “Culture” or at least an “About Us” page as part of their official site, and this is a great starting off point, not to mention something you can do before you even consider applying for the position. If the description of the company’s culture doesn’t sound appealing to you at all, chances are you wouldn’t be happy there and the employer may not be happy to have you there.
  • Make use of company contacts. If you know someone who already works for the company, ask him/her what it’s like. Even better, depending on how well you know this person, ask if he/she thinks you will make a good cultural fit. Most likely, a friend or acquaintance will be honest with you.
  • Be observant. If you are offered an interview that takes place in the office, be sure to take a good look around you. Notice how employees are dressed, how they interact with one another, how the office itself is set up (i.e.: employees are in cubicles, totally separate from one another, or desks are arranged in an open area where co-workers are able to see and talk to one another easily).
  • Evaluate the interview, itself. The way you are treated during the actual interview can also be an indicator of corporate cultural practice/values. Do the questions asked indicate some kind of theme or trend? Are you interviewed by a panel, or with other candidates? What is the overall tone and attitude of your interviewer?
  • Ask questions. At the end of an interview, candidates are almost always invited to ask a question or two of their interviewer, and this is the perfect opportunity to learn about the company’s culture. Ask questions about the employer’s leadership style, or the company’s code of ethics or philanthropic efforts. You may also want to ask how the interviewer would personally describe the corporate culture or simply the work environment in general. If anyone knows what it’s really like to work for the company, it’s one of its employees, so go straight to the source.

In some cases, the wrong cultural match can be the difference between landing what seems like the perfect job or not. If you want to know how well you’ll fit in, or if you want to ensure an employer that you will indeed fit in, take these steps to learn about the company beyond its business efforts.

Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.

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