How to Zero In on a Company’s Organizational Culture

ID-100144712Every company is different.  Each organization has its own customs and values that will significantly impact the experience that you would have as an employee.  If you are applying for a position at a particular company, it is a good idea for you to learn about the organizational culture.  This information can help you position yourself as an excellent candidate for the role, but more importantly it can help you determine whether or not you would be happy working at this company.  Here are some strategies that will help you get a strong understanding of the culture at any organization:

Talk to employees.  People are your best source of information when it comes to corporate culture.  See if there are any current or past employees of the company within your network.  If not, then reach out to people on social media.  Ask them how they would describe the company, what the company values, and what it’s like to work there.  You might be surprised by how candid employees are willing to be.  If possible, try to speak to a few different people so that you get a more balanced perspective.

Check out the company website.  You can learn a lot about a company by what they post on their website.  What do they say their values are?  How are they distinguishing themselves from their competitors?  Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter can be even more revealing of a company’s culture since it is updated more frequently and less time is spent revising it.  Read everything that the company puts out online and see what type of ‘feel’ you get from the organization.  Since organizational culture is usually an intangible quality, you need to trust your gut when you’re making these types of assessments.

Show up early to the interview.  Come fifteen minutes before your interview and spend some time sitting in the lobby.  Open your eyes and pay attention to what you see.  How are the employees dressed?  How do they interact with each other?  Do they seem engaged?  Bored? Intimidated?  Do they behave professionally?  Does the workplace seem clean and organized?  How is it decorated?  All of this information can help paint a picture of the organization’s culture.

Ask questions at the interview.  By asking questions about the company culture at the interview, you can get valuable information while at the same time present yourself as an engaged employee.  Let them know that the organization’s values are important to you and ask them about the company’s priorities over the next few years, how decisions are made and communicated, and how the employees work together.  Most managers are proud of their company’s values and would be happy to answer your questions.

While organizational culture may seem unimportant when stacked up against salary, you should not ignore it.  Organizational culture will impact how you feel when you’re at work and how successful you can be at the company.  While it’s true that you can do well at any company, when you find an organization that aligns with who you are and what you stand for, you can make magic happen!

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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