Thursday, October 1, 2009

Company Culture Fit

Every company, no matter how big or small, has a company culture. In fact, one of the greatest factors in determining job satisfaction and possible career success is the ability to fit into a company’s culture. Company culture includes items like: a company’s values; the way in which business is conducted; how employees interact with one another; and the overall atmosphere. With so much weighing on company culture, it is important that you understand your personality and the type of environment where you’d do your best. Take this knowledge forward as you assess any company’s culture before accepting a new job.

Actions, Observations and Questions
Luckily there are some actions, observations and questions you can ask in getting a feel for a prospective employer’s company culture, such as:

•Use the Internet to do research on a prospective company—look at an annual report or news coverage for items like how they describe themselves, whether they speak to work/life balance, participate in community service activities, etc. Search to see if they’ve won any “best place to work” or other awards. Tap into a site like LinkedIn to search for people who previously or currently work for the company, and ask them to describe the company culture.

•Observe clues when you’re waiting for your interview or are in your interview such as: What is the demeanor of the workers—are they smiling or do they seem stressed? What is the dress code? If you walk past office space, do the managers’ offices exist amongst their teams or are they in big offices with closed doors? Does the interviewer seem prepared and able to provide a thorough job description and offer details about how the role is viewed within the company?

•Ask questions to both the interviewer and current employees like:
What is a typical work day like?
What type of person would be most likely to fit in and be successful in your company?
What is the average tenure for employees within the organization and group that I am interviewing for?
How are decisions made and what type of decisions might I be involved with?
Can you describe an experience of working on a policy, process or other change initiative? What was that experience like? Was there any resistance from management, your staff, or other employee groups?

In addition to all the above, don’t discount your own intuition. Remember, you’ll be spending your valuable time and energy with this company and its people—make sure this is how you want to spend it.

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