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5 ways to learn about a company’s culture

We have all been there – you start a new job and as you get past those first week jitters, you realize that the company culture isn’t what you expected. This is not an ideal situation to be in, so we wanted to talk about how to discover more about a company’s culture during the interview process.

Research!

Your first step before applying to any job, is to check out the company’s website. Generally, you are looking at the website to learn more about the company process and employment opportunities. But it is also an opportunity to look for indications of the company culture. Ask yourself: Do they talk directly about the company culture? Do they discuss their values or have a mission statement? Is there anything else that may give you insight into what working there might be like? Make note of what you find and also what you did not find.

Seek out reviews.

Your next logical step is seeking out reviews of the company to see how employees describe working there. Obviously, you cannot take everything people say at face value. Some people will absolutely hate working somewhere that other people love. What you are looking for is consistency regarding the overall reviews you find. Are there more happy people than unhappy? Is there consistency in what is being complained about? Is anything mentioned multiple times that is a deal breaker for you?

Set up informational interviews.

If you feel comfortable, reach out to current or former employees of the organization you are researching. Let them know you are thinking about applying for a job and ask them if they would be willing to chat with you. If you do not know anyone directly, look for people on LinkedIn. Keep the questions professional and just seek a general overview from people.

Ask questions during your interview.

You never want to ask about the company culture directly, but instead ask questions that allow the hiring manager to shed light on the day to day work practice. Avoid asking questions that can be answered with only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Questions to consider: How do teams collaborate and communicate? How did they make working from home successful during COVID-19? What opportunities for learning and development are provided?

Read between the lines with what is being left out – or if one particular thing is the overall focus. Is the hiring manager happy to answer your questions? Or is there any reluctance? Do their answers feel rehearsed? Trust your gut regarding the answers.

Always show up early for an interview.

Who doesn’t love some good people watching? Getting to your interview a little early gives you a chance to observe office life. It will give you some insight you may not have had otherwise, and shows you are taking the interview seriously and are a timely person. Overall, showing up early is always a win-win.

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