Prioritize Company Culture in Your Job Search

By Chelsea Babin

Your pursuit of the perfect job should start with seeking out a great culture fit. When your company’s culture—defined by the combinations of their experiences, beliefs, values, attitudes and psychology—conflicts with your own, there is bound to be conflict. First, find out what your workplace values are and then get ready to evaluate each organization you apply at by the following criteria:

1)   What is their overall purpose?: Every organization has a mission statement, a goal, a direction they’re heading in. These are essential bits of information to analyze when you’re trying to evaluate a company’s culture because it will give you a look at where they are and where they’re heading.

2)   How do they communicate?: Communication is key in any organization, but companies have a variety of ways to go about it. Maybe managers have an open door policy or you’ll be relying more on your team with little interference from upper management. Whatever the case, this aspect of the company culture can greatly affect your experience.

3)   How will your performance be evaluated?: Like communication, performance evaluation can have extensive ramifications on your overall workplace experience. Knowing these procedures ahead of time will clue you in on the importance of workplace values like autonomy, recognition and compensation.

4)   How is their workplace structured?: Structure can be rigid and formal or loose and casual, with most companies falling somewhere in between. Get a feel for the office when you go in for the interview. Are there cubicles, separate offices or a wide-open floor plan? Are people wearing shorts and flip flops or suits and ties? Then, think about what kind of workplace makes you the most comfortable. Some people prefer the regimented hierarchy of a traditional workplace while others crave a more malleable structure.

5)   What do the employees think?: One great source for company culture is from the mouths of current and former employees. While you should take no one’s word as gospel—opinions have a way of differing greatly between individuals—try to converse with a few company veterans to get a better feel for how the company culture really is. You can either source these opinions in person or try to find reviews online from former employees.

Company culture varies and turns one person’s dream workplace into another person’s nightmare. Don’t get stuck working full time in an organization you hate. Prioritize company culture during your job search to avoid conflicting values, disengagement and lack of fulfillment.