A Job Candidate’s Guide to Finding a Cultural Fit

Selecting the right company to work for involves more than just matching your skills to the job description. Understanding the culture is vital, directly impacting job satisfaction, professional growth, and overall well-being. Here are the steps you take before the interview or before you apply:

Research the Company

The internet is a treasure trove of information, and researching a company online is the first step in uncovering its culture. Start with the company’s official website, paying close attention to the “About Us” or “Our Values” section. This often provides insights into the company’s mission, vision, and core values.

Beyond the official website, explore social media platforms. Companies frequently share updates, achievements, and glimpses into their workplace culture on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Employee testimonials, event photos, and company announcements can provide valuable context about the work environment.

Employee Reviews and Feedback

Platforms like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Comparably allow current and former employees to share their experiences anonymously. Reading these reviews can offer candid insights into the company’s culture, management style, and overall employee satisfaction. Remember that no company is perfect, so look for recurring themes or patterns in the reviews.

When reading reviews, pay attention to aspects like work-life balance, career development opportunities, and the overall treatment of employees. Be cautious of reviews that seem overly positive or negative, and seek a balanced understanding of the company’s culture.

Networking and Informational Interviews

Connecting with current or former employees through professional networks like LinkedIn can provide firsthand information about a company’s culture. Reach out to employees and express your interest in learning more about the company from their perspective. Many professionals are willing to share insights and advice, giving you a more nuanced understanding of the workplace.

Also, through a LinkedIn search of people who work for the company, you can locate people for informational interviews with employees in the roles or departments you are interested in, which can be invaluable. Thoughtful questions about the company culture, team dynamics, and opportunities for professional growth are below.

Once you’ve done your research and are ready to interview, asking thoughtful questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the position. It helps you gather more information about the company and its culture and see if there is consistency in who they say they are and how they behave.

Here are some questions to ask:

About the Company

  • Can you tell me more about the company culture?
  • Can you provide more details about the company’s values and mission?
  • How would you describe the team dynamic here?
  • What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
  • What do you think sets this company apart from its competitors?

About the Team

  • Can you tell me more about the team I’ll be working with?
  • How does the team collaborate and communicate on a day-to-day basis?
  • What is the leadership style within the team?
  • How are conflicts or disagreements typically addressed within the team?
  • What kind of support can I expect from my supervisor regarding professional development?
  • Can you share an example of a successful project the team has worked on?
  • What is the team’s approach to problem-solving and decision-making?

About the Role

  • Can you provide more details about the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
  • How does success in this role contribute to the overall success of the team or company?
  • What opportunities for professional development are available for someone in this role?
  • About Career Development
  • How does the company support professional development and career growth for its employees?
  • Are there opportunities for skill development or additional training?
  • Can you share examples of employees who have grown within the company?
  • About Performance Expectations
    What are the key performance indicators for success in this role?
  • How are employee performances evaluated, and how often is feedback provided?
  • Can you describe the typical career path for someone in this position?

About Work-Life Balance

  • How does the company promote and support work-life balance among its employees? Are there any expectations for overtime or remote work?
  • Are there flexible work options or remote work policies in place?
  • How does the company handle periods of high workload or tight deadlines?
  • How does the company handle stress and high-pressure situations?

About Company Values and Mission

  • How do the company’s values align with the day-to-day work of this role?
  • Can you provide more insight into how the company upholds its mission statement?
  • In what ways does the company demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion?
  • Can you share any diversity and inclusion initiatives or programs in place?
  • How does the company ensure an inclusive environment for all employees?

About Communication within the Company

  • How is information communicated within the company, especially across different teams or departments?
  • Are there regular team meetings or company-wide updates?
  • How does the company handle internal communication during remote work situations?

About Training and Development

  • What opportunities exist for professional growth and development?
  • Does the company provide training programs for employees to enhance their skills?
  • How does the company support continuous learning?

About Company Challenges and Opportunities

  • What are the current challenges the company is facing, and how is the team addressing them?
  • Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives the team is excited about?
  • How does the company stay ahead of industry and technology trends and changes?
  • What are the company’s goals and plans for the future?
  • Can you provide insights into the company’s vision for the next five years?

About Employee Satisfaction

  • How does the company gather employee feedback, and what actions are taken based on that feedback?
  • Can you share examples of how the company supports employee well-being and satisfaction?
  • What is the retention rate like within the company?

About the Next Steps in the Interviewing Process

  • What are the next steps in the interview process, and what is the expected timeline?
  • Is there anything else you need from me to move forward in the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear back regarding the decision?

Asking questions during an interview helps you assess if the company fits you and showcases your enthusiasm and preparation for the role. Tailor your questions based on the specific details you’re seeking and the nature of the position and company. It would be best if you tailor these questions to the particular context of the interview and the time constraints (prioritize what you need to know versus what would be nice to know) and use them as a foundation to delve deeper into areas that are particularly important to you and your career goals. Asking questions signals to the interviewer that you are proactive and engaged in the process.

About rich@leading2leadership.com

Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on Amazon.com and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at www.leading2leadership.com.

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