This is “Developing Your Personal Skills: Learning to Fit In”, section 8.6 from the book Management Principles (v. 1.1).
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How do you find out about a company’s culture before you join? Here are several tips that will allow you to more accurately gauge the culture of a company you are interviewing with.
First, do your research. Talking to friends and family members who are familiar with the company, doing an online search for news articles about the company, browsing the company’s Web site, and reading its mission statement would be a good start.
Second, observe the physical environment. Do people work in cubicles or in offices? What is the dress code? What is the building structure? Do employees look happy, tired, or stressed? The answers to these questions are all pieces of the puzzle.
Third, read between the lines. For example, the absence of a lengthy employee handbook or detailed procedures might mean that the company is more flexible and less bureaucratic.
Fourth, reflect on how you are treated. The recruitment process is your first connection to the company. Were you treated with respect? Do they maintain contact with you or are you being ignored for long stretches at a time?
Fifth, ask questions. What happened to the previous incumbent of this job? What does it take to be successful in this firm? What would their ideal candidate for the job look like? The answers to these questions will reveal a lot about the way they do business.
Finally, listen to your gut. Your feelings about the place in general, and your future manager and coworkers in particular, are important signs that you should not ignore.Adapted from ideas in Daniel, L., & Brandon, C. (2006). Finding the right job fit. HR Magazine, 51, 62–67; Sacks, D. (2005). Cracking your next company’s culture. Fast Company, 99, 85–87.
There are a number of ways to learn about an organization’s culture before you formally join it. Take the time to consider whether the culture you are observing seems like the right fit for you. Once you get a job, you can do key things to maximize your onboarding success.