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How to assess company culture in your job search

Published: Tuesday 21st March 2017

Female searching for a new job

When you’re looking for a job, there might be situations where you are told that you either ‘fit’ or ‘don’t fit’ a company. But what does it actually mean to fit a company’s culture and how can you best assess it?

The culture of a company is dictated by its values, behaviours, and beliefs. It also includes ethics, goals and work environment. This culture is expressed through the words and behaviours of each employee, as well as the management style of the company’s leadership, and by the way it affects the organisation’s productivity and performance. Company culture is unique to each organisation and can sometimes be seen as being the ‘personality’ of a company.

When you work at a company that is a good fit for your own personality, you are likely to be happier and more productive at work. But working at a company that doesn’t share your values and beliefs can end up being stressful and unrewarding.

Because it is hard to change an existing company culture, it is important to assess it before agreeing to start a new job. The job interview is your best opportunity to do so, but how can you make sure to make the most of this limited time inside the dragon’s den?

Use the interview

The interviewer will be trying to assess your personal skills and traits during your interview, but you can do the same. By taking notes of the interviewing process, you will be given an introduction to the way the company is being run. Were you given any information about the interview beforehand? Are the interviewers prepared and on time? Do they try to make you feel at ease? The general mood of this initial conversation could give a lot away too. Are the interviewers generally interested in what you say? Have they thought about personal questions are just ticking off boxes? Do they seem happy in their own position?

Observe the work environment

The work environment will give you plenty of clues as to how the company prefers their employees to work. Is the office open plan or does everyone sit at their own booth? Are there spaces for people to escape their work and talk to others? But the way other employees behave as a good indicator too. Are they having lunch behind their desks? How do employees interact with each other? If you ask your interviewers for a tour of the office, you should be able to get a good idea of what the general work environment is like.

Just ask

Finding out facts about the company culture doesn’t have to be secret. After all, it’s in the best interest of the company too that you would consider yourself to be a good fit. Your interviewer should give you an opportunity to ask questions about the company at the end of your interview. You can use this opportunity to ask questions about the values that matter most to you. Does the company have a code of ethics? How would the interviewer describe the current managerial style? How are employees recognized for their efforts and achievements? If you would like to find out about any opportunities involving flexible working or professional development, this is your chance.

If you are looking for a job, why not download the Zoek app to let your new job find you? The app for faster, smarter recruitment can be downloaded on iOS or Android.

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