When you’re looking for a job, it’s important to consider an organization’s culture. You need to assess whether you’ll be a good “cultural fit” for the organization, and whether the organization will be a good fit for you. Cultural fit is an important determinant of your success, engagement and even happiness on the job.
So how do you find out about an organization’s culture?
Peruse Their Website and Social Media Presence
A great place to start is with their website. Read their “About Us” page and any other pages that describe their history, mission, vision, values, etc. Then review their product/service, customer support, and customer resource pages. Pay attention to the language and tone, and look for consistency or inconsistencies. You’ll get a sense of the “persona” and culture they want to project to the public.
It’s also a great idea to search out their other online presences. Do they have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Google+ page?Follow them on Twitter. Search out some of their employees on these social media sites. You can often get a truer sense of the organization’s culture by exploring their social media presence and reading what their employees say about them.
Talk to Your Contacts
Talk to any contacts you have who work for or with the organization. Current or former employees, suppliers, even customers can tell you a bit about what it’s like to work for or with an organization. You may know these people directly, or indirectly, through your network of contacts. You’ll be surprised how small the world is when you start to ask about contacts. And people who’ve worked for or with an organization can give you a wealth of information and stories that help you understand the culture.
Ask the Hiring Manager
During the interviewing process, it’s fair to ask the hiring manager about the organization’s culture, as well as about their own work/management style. Many organization’s see these types of questions as a sign of interest and engagement. Be aware that the manager’s style may be different from the organizations, so it’s important to explore both. You’ll get some insight into the organization’s culture and more importantly, the manager’s personality and perspective.
Ask About Their Talent Management Practices
“Talent management” is the HR term for all the processes and practices that revolve around giving employees direction, feedback, development and rewards. A good place to start is by asking about their performance appraisal process. Ask the manager questions like:
- How/when will you be given goals?
- How often will you get feedback and coaching on your performance?
- Do they have a formal process for performance evaluation and if so, what is it?
- How does the organization encourage employee development and career progression?
Then ask things like:
- Do they have a succession planning program in place? How does it work?
- Is compensation linked to performance? How?
- Do they support internal mobility? (If they say yes, ask for specific examples of when employees were promoted.)
- Do they have an employee referral program?
The answers you get about the organization’s processes and the manager’s opinion of them will give you some interesting insight into how the organization views, manages and values its workforce.
Each of us is unique, at a different stage in our career, and needs different things from our manager and organization. Knowing what’s important to you and whether your needs will be addressed by the organization is important to your success in a role. Do you work best in a competitive or collaborative work culture? Do you prefer close supervision or greater independence? Do you like a more formal or more casual work environment? Are you looking for opportunities for development and career progression? Doing some research into an organization’s culture will help you decide if this will be a good place for you to work.
Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of talent management systems. He also writes about culture, management and development on the Halogen Software blog.