Company culture is one of the key things that makes each company different from another. It’s something we’ve all been hearing a lot about recently, as companies are realising that their culture plays a big part in the quality of the talent that they attract. In the tech industry, this has been especially prevalent, with the question of what constitutes “good company culture” dominating the discussion.
The simple truth is that good company culture depends on the employee. Each person has their own preferences and will adapt differently to different kinds of working environments. However, joining the wrong company for you can end up being a serious career misstep, so how can you find out whether the company you’re about to join has a culture that fits your preferences?
Decide What You Want
First things first: you need to decide what you’re looking for before you can know whether a particular culture will work for you or not. Ask yourself what drives you; is it money, or other rewards, or is doing interesting work your priority? Knowing what gets you out of bed in the morning is the most important thing when assessing what you want out of a workplace.
Your values when it comes to work are another key point. Think about the things that are important to you in how an organisation operates or conducts itself, and look for these attributes during your job search. Bear in mind that you’ll likely need to compromise on your wish list to some extent (we don’t get to make all the decisions!), but finding a workplace that aligns with your values will make a great deal of difference to your long-term happiness.
The other important consideration is around the things that keep you happy in the workplace. For example; do you like working with other people in a collaborative and team focused environment, or do you prefer to work by yourself? Whether it’s a lifestyle consideration, like flexible hours, or just the little things that keep you happy while at work, these factors should influence the kinds of companies that you target in your job search.
Evaluate Potential Employers Against Your Priorities
When looking at potential roles – either online, through a recruitment agency, or via a referral – take the time to see what you can find out about the company’s culture before applying. A great place to start your research is online. Take a good, in-depth look at the company website and check out the company’s presence on social media. Many companies use these channels as a tool to give people an insight into who they are as a company, and by extension what it’s like to work there. However, keep in mind that this online content will often be carefully curated by the company, so it might not always make for a completely accurate representation.
One way to avoid this is to see if you know someone (or someone who knows someone) at the company you’re looking into. Ensure that you get the key information you’re looking for, but keep in mind that it’s only one source of information, and you might not share their opinion – everyone likes different things at work. If you’re working with a recruiter, we’ll likely have a good relationship with a number of people at the company, and will have had previous exposure to what their culture is like, so we can normally give you a good idea of how well you’d potentially fit in or put you in touch with someone who can help to answer your questions.
Use the Interview to Your Benefit
Although as a job seeker, the interview can often feel like a test that you either pass or fail, in reality, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, so make the most of the opportunity.
Firstly, take note of your surroundings. Are they different from what your research had caused you to expect? If so, are the surroundings better or worse than you’d anticipated? Examine the demeanour of the people around you; the interviewer(s), receptionist, and any other employees. This can give you an insight into what the regular day-to-day looks like, and whether or not you can see yourself fitting into that environment.
Secondly, use the interview to your advantage. Think about the kinds of questions the interviewer is asking; are they skewed towards discovering any kind of specific information? For example, are they focusing on your technical skills or your soft skills? Small details like this can be good indicators of what they value most in an employee, so be sure think about whether this fits in with your own ideas.
At the end of the interview, it’s very likely that you’ll be asked if you have any questions. All too often, interviewees don’t make the most of this opportunity and miss out on uncovering important details. Using this chance to ask questions like “What has been your proudest moment here so far?” or “What does everyone who works here have in common?” can be a huge help in revealing the culture of the workplace and informing your next career decision.
As excited as you may be about a potential job opportunity, it’s a good idea to be 100% sure about your prospective new employer before putting your name on the dotted line. Your career shouldn’t be a trial and error process, especially not when there are steps you can take to avoid uncertainty. Looking for more job search advice? Get in touch with RWA today.