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How to Assess a Potential Employer’s Culture

One of the most important factors to consider when looking for a job or evaluating a potential employer is the company’s culture. Just like a boss can make or break an experience, so can an organization’s culture.

But how do you determine what it would be like to work for a company before you even fill out a W4? It comes down to being diligent and observant throughout the hiring process and asking yourself these 5 questions once it’s complete.

What are the company’s overall values?

During the interview process, ask specifically about an organization’s mission and core values. Companies that prioritize their culture will be able to answer this clearly and almost immediately. Then, think about what’s important to you. For example, is work/life balance on that list? Ask about scenarios you would experience when it comes to balancing work and life to see how they would treat you as an employee in that situation.

How does the company view communication?

Transparent communication is more important than ever as companies have adopted remote-work policies in light of recent events and workplace circumstances. Take into account what communication strategies are in place between colleagues, amongst colleagues and managers, and companywide. For example, does the company abide by the call before you walk policy when you’re in the office or require that certain communications occur over Slack vs. email when working remotely? Finding out this information will give you an idea of how organized the communication strategy is.

How is your professional development prioritized?

Are there training programs or mentorships offered to promote employee development? Look at the ways employees are pushed and engaged, and how a company encourages innovation. Professional development gives employees the opportunity to stay up to date with the latest trends and ensures that knowledge and skills stay relevant. It improves the employees, the company, and the culture.

What does leadership mean?

Following the interview process, does it seem like employees view senior management favorably? Does the C-Suite appear to be a trustworthy group on the surface? Look at how the decision-making process goes internally. Determine if middle management plays a role in this and how big of a role it is. All companies experience successes and failures. What does the organization do to celebrate the successes and use the failures as teaching tools?

Where does a company place recruitment and retention?

Companies always need to be one step ahead when it comes to maintaining a full roster. The right recruitment strategy attracts the right talent, lessening the chances that toxicity rears its ugly head in the workplace, affecting a culture. Are there retention or referral programs? Employees who are sourced through a referral program are more likely to stay. Retention rates for referred hires are at 45% after 2 years, more than double the 20% retention rate for traditional hires.

You have the questions to ask yourself, but it’s also important to confirm how you feel about a company’s culture by taking these actions throughout the interview process.

  1. Ask people you connect with why they work there.
  2. Take note if the office format is an open floor plan or is lined with individual offices.
  3. Observe how employees interact with one another.

Once you feel like you’ve successfully evaluated a company’s culture, picture yourself as an employee within the organization. Ask yourself if it’s a good fit for you while also keeping a realistic mindset and preparing for any challenges that might come your way.

How important is a company’s culture to you during the interview process, and what’s the best way to assess it? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Red Flags to Recognize in Your Next Interview.