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.  

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