How to assess a company's culture
One of the trickiest things about applying for jobs is trawling through job ads and trying to figure out a company’s culture.
Job descriptions and careers pages don’t always give you an accurate view of what it’s really like to work at a company. How do you know if the company is right for you?
Here are 4 tips to help you research a company’s culture.
Examine the hiring process
By looking at the communication you’ve had with an employer you can make educated guesses about the wider business too. Was your point of contact unresponsive or unclear? Was the correspondence erratic or disorganised? There are many possible reasons for this to be the case; perhaps it’s nearing month end or there are team members on holidays. It isn’t always a cause for concern. However, poor communication may also indicate something more sinister such as an overburdened employee, an absence of a dedicated HR team or a lack of established processes for hiring.
Research available channels
Have a look at the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. What kind of content are they sharing? What’s the tone like? Are they joining discussions you feel are important? Do employees feature in the company’s social channels? If not, why not? In addition, take a look at review sites like Glassdoor to see what previous employees have said about the organisation. How do they describe the working environment? Note that these reviews won’t be a full reflection of the company culture but they can offer some insight.
The best careers pages and job sites will have video testimonials from employees discussing what it’s like to work at the company.
As well as researching the company itself, read up on the leadership team. There may be a number of news articles or interviews featuring the founder or CEO that offer some information on their values and motivations - this will depend on the size and notoriety of the company. Failing that, take a look at their LinkedIn profile to get a sense of their career successes to date.
A face-to-face interview is your best opportunity to get a sense of the company culture and ethos. Ask your interviewer to describe the management style, the day-to-day vibe in the office and the social activities (if any). It’s also a good idea to ask them about the direction and journey of the business. If the company has a strong culture your interviewer should be able to tell you about the vision, regardless of how senior they are. Another good question to ask is how this role came about. Is it a new or existing job? If the former, why did the last employee leave? If the latter, how did the team determine the need for the new role? These questions can offer important insights into the organisational structure of the company and how teams work together to achieve common goals.
Search your network
Take a look through your networks and see if any of your connections work or have worked at the company you’re applying to. They may be able to shed some light on the company values and the mood within the team. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them about their experiences.