5 Tips To Uncover Company Culture

The culture of an organization is incredibly important when you are making a job switch. It becomes imperative if you have lived through the challenges of working for a company or two that were not fits. Have you ever taken a job thinking the company culture was “A” but it was really “X”? To clarify, an organization’s culture encompasses several elements.


  • How do they treat their employees?
  • What is management’s motivators?
  • Is it only the bottom line or is there more?
  • What is the work ethic?
  • What are the expectations for your time?
  • Is it standard that many employees work weekends or do people enjoy life outside of work?
I’ve had a few clients live this reality. They accepted a job offer thinking the company culture was inline with their goals, only to discover after being in the new job 6 months to a year, that they mis-read the culture. Many times we will ride these situations out to see if it will get better. Sometimes it does. More often than not, nothing changes and the decision to part ways becomes obvious. How do we avoid not making this same mistake again and again? Here are five strategies to help you be prepared and open your eyes to see the culture of an organization.

1. Research

Research is an integral part of your interview preparation. But when it comes to company culture, look at the press releases and the website with new eyes. Some questions to think through; how does the company represent itself? It is formal, casual, or in-between. Check sites such as Glassdoor.com. This is a good resources to find out what former employees are saying about their former employers.

2. Network

Ask about this organization to individuals in your network that have either worked there or had business interactions with the company. Vendors and partners of a company can tell you their take, an outsiders perspective, on the company. That is invaluable.

3. Ask

Ask questions in the interviews. I do suggest asking culture questions but only after the first interview. The first interview can be too soon. Here are some questions you can ask but be sure to do so in a conversational manner. Remember an interview is a conversation with a colleague. Be relaxed but get to what you are there to do - sell them on you and uncover the fit. Uncovering the culture is absolutely necessary for your success and for the success of this new working relationship you will have with this company. Possible questions to ask (I would suggest asking them in your own words):
  • How would you best describe the culture of this organization? Of our department?
  • What do you see as the pros and cons of this culture?
  • What makes this a great place to work?
  • What could be improved?
  • What makes the department I would be working for so successful?

4. Observe

While you are at the offices interviewing, watch how people act, respond, and interact. Try to meet as many of your future co-workers as possible. Be in the offices and get a sense of the pace, how the office is organized and decorated. This will give you a sense of what the company finds important.

5. Decide

After you have gathered all that you can discover and observe, decide if this is a fit for you. The only way you can decide is to know what is important to you. What are you “must-have’s” in any position? What do you need in a work environment? There are external and intrinsic must have’s. Here are some areas to get you thinking: commute, colleagues, professional development, honesty/integrity, appreciation, hard work, salary, quality content, time off, respect by colleagues, and so on. So there you have it: research, network, ask, observe, and decide. Uncover the culture so you know if this is a fit for you.  

Want to get ahead in your job search?

Sign up below to receive our e-guide, "10 Steps To A Successful Job Search"

  Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When most people think of Nike, they think of shoes, retail stores, and, of course, athletes. That's all true, but there's more. Behind Nike's walls, you'll find the doers and thinkers who design, create, and innovate every day. There are also data scientists who discover and leverage athlete insights to create the future of sport.

You might be surprised to learn about the impact you can have in Data & Analytics at Nike versus at a major tech giant. Nike employees get to work on a wide array of challenges, so if you're obsessed with math, science, computers, and/or data, and you love sport, these stories may inspire you to work at Nike.

SHOW MORE Show less

Employee loyalty is something every company longs for. It's estimated employee turnover costs as much as 130-200% of an employee's salary. When a talented, knowledgeable, trained employee leaves, it's bad for business. And, when lots of them leave, it can be the kiss of death.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the interview situation one of our viewers, Remi submitted. He was in an interview and was asked the question: How many cows are there in Canada right now? - What a weird question but this is a technique that some hiring managers are using these days.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Kevin submitted. He is a college student who's working a part time job to make ends meet. The manager/owner of the company has become a micro-manager who watches him work on camera and reads his company emails. A bit over the top wouldn't you say?

SHOW MORE Show less