When you’re applying for jobs and considering job offers, you probably want to make sure the company you’re going to work for fits your values and standards. Company culture refers to the shared attitudes and set of workplace values among a workforce. It can include:
- The vision, priorities, and beliefs that drive employee actions
- What characterizes a workforce’s atmosphere and aesthetics, including everything from office layout to dress code
- How a company approaches teamwork, collaboration, diversity, equity, and inclusion
Why does your company culture matter? According to research from Indeed, when an employee responds positively to company culture, that leads to:
- Increased employee engagement
- Higher retention
- Better productivity
- Healthier team environment
In a full-time position, you’ll likely spend at least 40 hours a week working for your employer and collaborating with your coworkers. Before you say yes to a new job, here’s how to determine whether or not a company’s culture will fit you.
1. Thoroughly Read the Job Description
Clues to the company’s culture will be right in the job description. Some ways you can learn about company culture include:
- Language: Is the job description conversational and friendly, or is it more formal and technical? That might relate to the work atmosphere, as well.
- Vision and purpose: The job description might state what the purpose of the company and/or role are. Carefully read to see how the role will impact the greater organization and, potentially, the world.
- Benefits: Look at what benefits are offered to see how a company treats its employees. You might be interested in paid health benefits, flexible scheduling paid parental leave, and other types of benefits that support work-life balance for all employees.
- Company description: Some job descriptions will include statements explicitly about company culture. Read the entire job description throughout, since company culture insights might be included beyond the role duties.
2. Study the Company’s Website
A company’s website is often the most significant way an employer presents themselves to the public. Examine:
- The company “About” page: This is where you can learn about the company’s history, its mission, and its values. Analyze what the company stands for and why it was founded. Read or watch a video about what drives the company today.
- Visuals and copy: Does the company “speak” in a way that you relate to? Do the visuals show diversity? Is the website professionally designed and user-friendly?
- Product or service offering: What the company sells often influences the company’s culture. For example, a company that sells health and wellness products may also support employee health and wellness, by offering gym membership reimbursement or on-site yoga classes. If your values don’t align with what the company sells, they’re probably not going to be a culture fit, either.
3. Research the Company Online
Both branded and non-branded websites can offer additional insights into a company’s culture. Look at sites like:
- Social media: Social media sites are another place where you can see a company’s “voice,” visuals, point-of-view, and customer service in action. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn may also feature examples of company culture, like photos of team-building events, volunteer outings, and philanthropic efforts. You can also see how customers are interacting with the company and how the company responds to consumers, all of which can reflect the company culture.
- Company review sites: Company review sites like Glassdoor allow current and former employees to anonymously review an employer. Visit these sites to get honest insights into what working for a company is like.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is another great place to get valuable feedback on an employer. Search the employer on LinkedIn, and the site will show you which of your LinkedIn connections work there. You can also expand results to connections of connections. From there, you can reach out directly to your connections to ask them what they think of the company, or if they’re willing to introduce you via LinkedIn to the connections they know who work there.
4. Pay Attention During an Interview
If you proceed to the interview stage with an employer, now’s a great time to directly inquire about company culture. Take actions like the following.
- Ask the interviewer, “How would you describe your company’s culture”? This allows the employer to directly tell you how they’d describe it. Ask as many follow-ups or specific questions as you want relating to the company culture.
- Request an office tour. If you’re interviewing in person, ask for a tour of the office. You can get a feel for the layout, how noisy and organized it is, any office perks (like a kitchen), and other characteristics that show you what it’d be like to work in the office.
- Ask to meet with your potential supervisor. If the person interviewing you is someone different from the person who would manage you, ask if you can meet with your potential manager. Managers impact up to 70% of employee variance, Gallup research finds. A quick chat with the person you’d be reporting to can give you better clarity on both the role and the culture.
- Ask about benefits, perks, and team-building events. These are all directly tied to company culture. Use the interview to gain any clarification you need in these areas.
Consider Your Values Before Saying “Yes”
Company culture can greatly impact your job satisfaction. If you take a job at an employer whose company culture ends up being toxic or doesn’t align with what you value, that could force you into job-hopping too quickly, affecting your next job search.
Before you apply for jobs, write out at least 10 things you want out of a future employer. Use these qualities to guide you as you research companies, consider who you apply to, and weigh job offers. It’s better to ask outright questions about company culture, rather than say “yes” to an offer at a place that doesn’t fit your needs.