Company culture isn’t just about a ping pong table in the lunch room, open concept seating arrangements and bagels on Fridays. It’s central to how organizational decisions are made, who gets promoted and the attitudes and behaviors that get rewarded.
If you’ve ever started a new job only to find out that the culture was the wrong fit, you know just how important it is to ask the right questions and do some extra leg work before accepting a new gig.
Get Your Priorities Straight
The best way to know if a company is the right fit is to start with what’s important to you.
Is it the opportunity for speedy career growth, work-life balance, relaxed company culture, or a connection to a cause that drives you? And, yes, sometimes, it does come down to pay, but most experts advise against taking a job just for the money, so make sure you’re aligned with more than just the comp package.
Do Your Research
- Use Glassdoor to find general salary ranges and employee reviews. Be sure to review both positive and negative feedback. No company is perfect (even the good ones have their issues), but if you notice a trend, take note. When you meet with people in your network, politely ask if they’ve noticed the same things. It’s also totally appropriate to ask about these nearing the end of the hiring process. Be respectful and disarming. See some suggestions on how to do this below.
- Use Linkedin to connect with people in your network who know the company well to help you understand the org structure, major players and culture. If you have questions about how women or working moms specifically are regarded at the company (or not), ask now.
Ask these Questions
Weave these into the natural flow of your conversation during your interview (an integration sesh is not the way to get candid responses). Be sure to tailor these to your own conversation style and the industry.
- What type of people typically do well at [company] and on the team. Who typically doesn’t?
- What’s the best thing about working for [company] that I won’t understand until I start?
- What’s the hardest thing about being in this role?
- If you could change something about working here what would it be?
- What is it like to work for [manager]? How involved are they in what you’re working on each day?
- Who does well working for [manager]?
- How are people promoted?
- What is the new hire onboarding process like?
- If you had some advice for me while I consider this role, what would it be?
- I noticed a few negative reviews on Glassdoor complaining about [issues]. Why do you think that is? If you don’t want to mention Glassdoor specifically, you can say something along the lines of, “Tell me how [issue/type of situation] is typically handled.”