Employment Culture Counts: 5 ways to evaluate culture

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 23

When you get to a level of craziness from how things are going at work and decide it is time to go looking for a different job, how do you decide what kind of employment culture is right for you?

The employer’s culture is a surprisingly significant factor in job satisfaction. Or, at least for me. I’ve been in family run companies, Fortune 100 companies, a collaborative work group, ruthless work group, and getting things done type of culture. And, yeah, I am more comfortable working in some types and not others.

How do you evaluate a employer’s culture for work? Here’s five ways to start thinking about this subject — and I am sure there are more and would love to have a discussion about them either here or in MyBlogSpot:

  1. Know your own comfort level. As an individual, you may thrive on competition and simply be bored by a collaborative type of culture. Or, you may hate the competitive aspects of working with your co-workers and instead want to work in an environment that has more teamwork required.
  2. Read articles about the company. Journalists (or bloggers) will often provide significant tips about the work culture. If Home Depot is run “like the military” it means one thing. If Google allows a significant amount of time to “work on what interests you regardless of profit potential,” that means something different. I once didn’t even apply for a CIO position because the position description said that I’d have to be working with a “task-focused” COO. Don’t let me run my own business…I’ll pass.
  3. Ask your network about interactions with the company. How those interactions played out will often provide great insights about the other company. How was the company when your company responded to a request for a bid? How about when things went wrong and the company’s reaction?
  4. During the interview, ask about the team and larger group culture. Is the company run by engineers? Marketing people? While everyone is in sales (yes, everyone is in sales), is the company ruled by salespeople? How does the targeted interview group work with other groups? There is great insight from these types of questions.
  5. Interview someone at the company before your interview. If your networking tool (like JibberJobber.com) shows you contacts within your targeted company, see if you can set up an informational interview with that person (or persons) to determine if the cultural fit is right for you.

There are other methods, of course. What ways have you tried to figure out a company’s culture before going to work for them?