In my 14 years of working in the recruiting industry, I’ve always found it odd when someone doesn’t ask about the company culture during an interview.
When I was just out of college, the job market favored employers, and as a result, I didn’t put much focus on researching a company’s corporate climate – I was just happy to be working!
Todays’ market, however, with record low unemployment rates, indicates that the average job seeker now has more opportunities to research a potential employer’s full corporate culture before accepting an offer – at this point it’s not just about the money – a job seeker wants to know all the perks of a company to ensure growth and stability in their career.
If you’ve ever experienced working in a toxic work environment riddled with poor leadership, unhappy employees and high turnover rates, you will definitely agree that corporate culture plays an important part in your overall job satisfaction.
Company culture has become somewhat of a buzz word in recent years, not only in the recruiting industry, but across all industries. But what exactly is it and why is it so important? Think of company culture as the company’s personality. Just like you determine whether you like someone based on who they are, what they do, how they operate, etc., the same goes for a company’s culture. How does a company make you feel when you interact with their employees, do business with them, utilize their services or products? Do they have the same values as you? It’s not something you can reach out and touch, it’s more of a feeling.
So now that you know what company culture is, how do you go about identifying it when deciding whether or not their culture suits you, and additionally, whether or not you suit them? Although it’s not always easy to get a good feel for it before actually becoming employed with a company, there are a few ways to go about unveiling key aspects of it before and during the interview process. When assessing a company’s culture, either you’ll decide you want to be friends with them based on their corporate personality, or move on to a company whose personality betters suits you.
Visit the company’s website. Most companies have an “About Us” page or a “Who We Are” section on their website that outlines exactly that. In this section companies usually choose to share their “story” of who they, what they’ve accomplished, what they offer their customers, and also what they offer their employees. You can learn a lot from a company based on what they choose to include, or not to include.
Mission, Vision and Values
A company’s mission, vision or value statements are one of the most telling examples of that company’s culture; after all, it’s a statement they decided best represents who they are and why they do it. It serves as a guide for the company’s decision-making.
Below are some examples of mission statements from well-known companies. How do you feel when you read these mission statements? Do you feel inspired? Are these companies you could get onboard with based on their mission statements?
Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft
In our store or online, wherever new opportunities arise – Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible. The one constant? John W. Nordstrom’s founding philosophy: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality, and value. Nordstrom
To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. American Red Cross
These mission statements are clear in conveying what their purpose is and what they represent. If you are considering working for a company, their mission can provide you a basis for alignment with your career objectives. If the company is clear on their future and direction, that will be a pretty good indication if it’s a culture fit, and ultimately a corporate environment you will want to be a part of.
Companies who don’t have clear mission statements most likely don’t have a firm understanding of who they are and the direction they’re going. This can have negative repercussions felt throughout the company resulting in a less than desirable culture; ultimately leading to failure.
What can’t social media do for us these days? It provides networking opportunities, marketing, the ability to connect and stay in touch with people all over the world, and yes, it can be very handy not only for corporations to attract talent, but also for a job seeker to determine a company’s culture.
However, if a corporation utilizes social media poorly, it can cause the opposite and negative effect, specifically when one is reading through a company’s feed or posts. Is this is a company you admire and share similar beliefs and behaviors, or is this company not a good fit for you?
Ask Key Questions During the Interview
There are ways of uncovering hints of a company’s culture during an interview by asking key questions. Below are some examples. The more people you interview with at the same company, the better feel you’ll get when you ask these questions.
“What’s it like working here?”
“What do you most enjoy about working here?”
”How does the company celebrate achievements?”
“How long have you worked here?”
“How do you measure success?”
“How are these metrics determined?”
“Are you a military friendly company?”
“What do people on the team that I’d be joining do for lunch every day?”
“How does the company contribute to the community and give back?”
“Would you be able to show me around the office?”
There’s a plethora of questions you can ask in order to peel away the layers of what it’s really like to work for a company, but you won’t know the answers unless you ask!
Company culture is seen and felt throughout every level of the organization. When considering your next employer, or even evaluating your job satisfaction with your current employer, ask yourself if their culture is the right one for you. If it’s not, you may want to find one that is!