How can candidates assess a company’s culture?
Whether it’s a large group or a small company, your fit with its culture can have a big impact on your overall job satisfaction, but also on your career in the longer term.
What is a company’s culture?
It is the translation of beliefs and values of its leaders in the form of goals, policies and behaviors that have company-wide benefits. It can be as formal as a mission statement or as informal as a discussion in front of the coffee machine. Even the smallest companies have a culture, whether consciously or not.
When a company’s culture matches your work style, it promotes your creativity and productivity.
You can reach your top performers and advance your career. When the company culture is in line with your own values and goals, you enjoy going to work every day. Otherwise, your job can become a chore, or worse. When thinking about a new hire offer, consider the company culture, and its fit with your expectations, as closely as the posting responsibilities and salary range. Here’s what you need to pay attention to and the right questions to ask.
Pillars of corporate culture
When evaluating a new position, you should know what you need to find in a company’s culture. For example, you may not be able to see any downside to working late at night, but you don’t advocate a lack of organization. You may be looking for regular hours with a manager who promotes balance between work and privacy. Or, your number one priority is to work for a company whose mission you are passionate about and with colleagues who like to collaborate.
Are the company’s employees happy, does the company inspire loyalty and respect, or is turnover high because the workforce is dissatisfied? Check reviews on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to see which current and former employees are happy with the company.
Personal work-life balance
What does the management team do to promote work-life balance for its employees? Do managers respect regular schedules, or are they always expecting overtime teams? Are there opportunities for equipped hours and telecommuting? Does the company compensate overtime in the form of additional days (if it’s a framework position)? Do they provide in-kind benefits, such as on-site childcare services?
Collaboration and productivity
In a good corporate culture, team members appreciate collaboration and know how to work together. Communication is clear, transparent and honest, whether with management or the team. Is the manager who greets you at maintenance speaking respectfully of his or her subordinates? Are goals clearly stated? Do employees have everything they need to do their jobs?
Get to know the company culture during interviews
It’s not always easy to find a business that brings out the best in you and makes you excel. Hiring interviews are an opportunity to learn more about a business. Does it seem chaotic and disorganized? Your impression is likely to be considered. Does it do things by the book that respect all processes? The company may have tended toward excessive bureaucracy and slowness in its decision making, or leaves little room for personal expression. Before interviews, prepare questions about the company culture in addition to those related to the new position.
Ask the team members with whom you would have to collaborate about what they like about the company. This will let you know, for example, if employees are in solidarity or if they have access to professional development opportunities. If you don’t have the opportunity to discuss with your future collaborators during the interview process, it also informs you about the company culture.
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