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How to decide if a company is the right cultural fit for you

Posted on: 14 Feb 2017, admin

Finding a job generally involves trying to match your skills or job title with a current vacancy near your location. This approach will usually provide you with a list of very similar roles, all of which will appear to be very good opportunities. However, whilst you’ll be able to find out things like main responsibilities, skills required and location from the advert, in most cases you’re unlikely to gain much of an insight into the company culture.

Making sure the company is a good cultural fit for you, and vice versa, is incredibly important. Most of us spend around 40 hours a week at work so it’s vital for our career, health, motivation and job satisfaction that the company values match our own. If work was purely about making money then where we worked would matter little, but for most of us it’s about much more than that.

Whether it’s flexibility, a good work-life balance or opportunities to progress, we all want different things from our careers, which is where cultural fit comes in. But how do you go about deciding if a company is the right match for you

Research

Once you’ve identified an opportunity you’re interested in, do some research into the company’s values and what it’s really like to work for them.

Their website is a great place to start. Most businesses have an ‘About Us’ page which will give you a general overview of their culture and motivations. If they have a dedicated careers page you may be able to find out about available benefits and other perks. Also see if there is a ‘Meet the Team’ section. This is invaluable as you’ll get an insight into their current employees, helping you decide if they are the kind of personalities you’d like to work with.

Likewise, social media will reveal a lot about a business. Searching Facebook and Instagram will give you a flavour of the things they like to share with their customers and the wider public, LinkedIn will provide professional insights into their employees and Twitter may reveal what the company is currently doing and the type of projects they’re working on.

Sites like Glassdoor are also a useful source of information. You should be sceptical of reading too much into individual reviews but if a pattern emerges over several posts, it could be worth making a note of.

Finally, working with a reputable recruitment agency will help you find a role where you’ll fit in and feel valued. Explaining the sort of workplace culture you’re looking for will help the recruiter narrow down your search and give them an idea of the kind of environment that will help you to thrive.

During the Interview

Once you’ve done some initial research and decided you like the look of a company, it’s time to apply. If you’re invited in for a meeting, the interviewer will be keen to see if you’re the type of person who suits their work environment and will fit in with their team’s dynamics. Employers place a great deal of emphasis on finding the right hire and may reject a person with a superior skill set in favour of the candidate that best fits the culture. So here are some questions you may be asked that are designed to test your suitability for the work environment. Again, detailed research into the company will help you craft your answers.

Tell me something I don’t know about you

This question is designed to dig a little deeper beyond your CV and find out a bit more about your personality and interests. The interviewer will be using your response to judge whether or not you’d fit in with the rest of the office.

Explain an occasion when you worked well as part of a team

A standard question that crops up in most interviews, it’s nevertheless useful for determining if and how you get along with work colleagues. Your answer will reveal the role you play in group work and also your team fit.

What management style works best for you?

Your response will provide an insight into how you like to be managed. Do you prefer micro-management or a more hands-off approach? Regular feedback or more ad-hoc methods? Your answer will give the recruiter an insight into your personality and whether or not the management style of the company will work for you.

Your Questions

The end of an interview is when you’ll be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This is your chance to find out more about the workplace culture and fill in any holes from your research.

What’s the corporate culture like here?

You may think this is an obvious and even brazen question, but if you want to know what the environment is like you need to ask! This question should also impress the hiring manager as it displays your enthusiasm and eagerness to be a good team fit. You should also pay close attention to their response; do they struggle to give you a definitive or detailed answer? If so, it could be that the company doesn’t have a well-defined culture.

Which personality traits would be a good fit for your team?

This another useful way to gain a strong insight into the business ethos. If the recruiter values close collaboration and regular meetings and you prefer tackling tasks alone, you may want to consider looking elsewhere.

What do you enjoy about working here?

Again, this is an excellent way of gaining an understanding of the business and figuring out if it’s a place you’d like to work. Whether it’s a strong team spirit or team bonding events, you’re looking for an enthusiastic answer with some positive examples.

As you can see, there are many techniques you can employ both before and during an interview in order to gain a good insight into a company’s values. Assessing cultural fit is a two-way street; the employer wants to know that you’ll be engaged, reliable and more likely to stay for the long term. Conversely, you’ll be seeking assurances about job satisfaction and the team you’ll be working with. So research thoroughly and make sure the company values and benefits match your own as much as possible. Once you’ve got a well-rounded picture of the business, it’s up to you and your gut feeling to decide if a company is the right cultural fit for you.