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5 Tips to Understand Company Culture

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

We have heard and experienced it so many times - salary is good, but the environment is toxic or unprofessional.

You need to understand if employees are promoted and on what basis, if there are team building exercises, strong leadership support, and most importantly if a work-life balance exists.

The negatives are all found primarily after you have joined the company and the next and so on. Soon your resume looks like you are a job hopper with poor due diligence skills, little known to the reader the true reasons behind it.

Asking a few smart questions during your interview and doing your research, can go a long way to helping you understand a company’s culture before you accept an employment offer. Company Culture can also have a direct impact on your career. 45% of employees say that company culture is very important to them. You will want to choose a workplace that provides opportunities for professional development—and has a culture that encourages you.

Here are a few tips to understand the company culture

1. Website Research

A company's website must talk about its culture and people, its values, work-life balance, collaboration, or advancement and growth. If culture is not talked about on the website, make note of that, too.

But do not just take their word for it.

2. Make Connections

Talk to current and former employees and how they feel about their company and jobs. Do not trust a single negative or positive comment, but look for a general consensus opinion.

Look for connections on LinkedIn, and ask if they would mind sharing their thoughts on their work and the organization. Keep it professional, and remember that whatever you talk about, might get back to the hiring manager.

3. Social Media and New Articles

Search the company across social media from Facebook to Twitter to Google News to see what’s going on there at the moment. Has the company been growing rapidly—or have there been layoffs or pay cuts? Has leadership been hired (or fired) and why? Has the company come under scrutiny recently?

Knowing what issues the organization has been facing—and how it handled them—can give you an idea of how employees may be feeling about their jobs and the company overall. It can also give you specific things to ask about in your interview or any informational interviews you do.

4. Ask Specific Questions

Ask open-ended questions. If your question can be answered with a “yes” or “no,” it’s not sharp enough. Instead, ask questions like:

  • What do performance and success look like here?

  • Who has been the most performing employee and how has he/she grown?

  • How has this team successfully handled a major challenge?

  • Why did the previous employee leave? and what did he/she do best or what were the areas of his/her shortcomings?

Asking for examples will demonstrate if what the company says and does actually align.

5. Team Culture

Ask about how the team leader/supervisor or manager feels about policies that you have researched. If you are far into the process and seriously considering joining, ask if you can come in and spend a few hours with your prospective team in a group meeting or brainstorming session.

You need to ensure that family time is not compromised and in emergencies, the company strongly supports its, employees.

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