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What's the Big Deal About 'Culture Fit'? Part 1

Considering Culture Fit

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You spend more waking hours at work than at home, but when you’re evaluating a potential employer, do you think about the culture you’re getting yourself into? A company’s culture is its values, practices, attitudes, and norms. While getting hired is the end goal, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of what kind of culture the hiring company has to offer. In addition to the information you can uncover before a job interview, you can find out a lot about a company’s culture during the interview itself; just observe and ask.
Observe…
The work environment and employees: It may seem trivial, but observing your potential workspace can reveal more about a company than you’d think. How are the work spaces set up? Cubicles versus open work stations indicate more privacy but less collaboration, and vice versa. What is hung up on the walls? Humorous photos or minimalist artwork? How are the employees dressed — suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt? How do they communicate with one another? Observing these things can reveal to you whether a company’s culture is more creative, relaxed, professional, or fast-paced.
How you’re interviewed: Do your interviewers encourage you to address them by first name? What kind of demeanor do they maintain during the interview: formal and composed, or more casual and friendly? Do any themes or keywords emerge in their questions? Your interviewers are employees of the hiring organization. They reflect the type of people that work there and the type of brand/image that the company wants to portray.
Ask…
What it’s like to work for the organization: When it’s your turn to ask questions, inquire directly or ask leading questions to help you understand the company culture. What are the interviewer’s favorite things about working for the company? What are the challenges the company/team has faced? How are conflicts or differing opinions handled? What is the company’s leadership/managerial style?
What it takes to be successful: Ask the interviewer to recount an employee success story. This will reveal what the employer values in its employees and what it takes to advance in the company.
With so much of your waking time spent in the office, it’s likely that a significant part of your personal well-being depends on job satisfaction. Ensure that the hours you spend at work are rewarding by observing, asking, and ultimately digging into the company’s culture at your next interview.