Looking for a New Job? 6 Tips to Identify the Right Culture Fit

Working through these six tips will allow you to gather valuable information on your specific “must haves” and “nice to haves” for culture fit.

You finally found the perfect job on one of the big job boards. It looks like the job you have been searching for, for weeks. But just because the job description looks great doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Don’t you want to be happy and successful in your next career move? The odds are much higher that you can be both in an organization that most closely aligns with your values or is a good “culture fit.” 

So how can you tell if the company you are interested in will be a good culture fit for you? Here are six tips to help:

1. Identify what you want to see in a company’s culture. You can’t find the right fit until you know what you want. A good place to start would be to think about your values.Make a list, in order, of the things that are important to you.Values you may consider include: independence and autonomy, power, leadership, friendship, lifestyle, service, challenge, wealth and security.You will have some that are “must haves” and some that are “nice to have.”

2. Do your research. Find out what is being said about the company in the local press, on the company Website, and on other Internet sites such as LinkedIn and www.glassdoor.com. What do they say about themselves and their people?Do they mention their culture? What do you see in pictures of the company? How do the things you find align with what you want?If service is important to you, for example, are they involved in the community? Look for an article or picture of the company volunteering at a community event.

3. Talk to people. Networking isn’t just about getting your resume into the hands of hiring managers; it’s also about gathering information on the company. Is there a difference between what the company says about itself and the reality? Is there a difference between the company culture and the culture of the department you are interested in?Culture can differ within organizations.You will want to find out if your hiring manager is the only micro-manager in the “Best Place to Work” in the city! 

4. Ask about your “must haves” during the interview. If leadership is important, for example, you may ask how many of the current leaders were promoted through the organization. If a good work/life balance is important, you may ask if it’s OK to leave for a couple of hours to watch your child in the school play. But timing is everything with some questions. You might delay that one until after you have received the job offer. Ask the same questions to different people and compare their answers. Ask them to describe the company culture and give you an example. Asking questions will allow you to confirm the information you have gathered. 

5. Evaluate the hiring process. This could take a few days, weeks, or several months. Are you only told to “go online and fill out an application?” Or will a live person actually speak with you?Is the initial interview by phone, in the office, or a recorded video?Do you have to fill out a 10-page application, including activities from preschool? Do they ask the date you graduated from high school or your date of birth? Do they seem genuinely interested in you during the interview and after?

6. Observe your surroundings. Once you’ve arrived at the company, look around.What pictures hang on the wall?Are employee awards displayed?When employees come in, are they chatting with each other, smiling, happy to be there? Or are they walking in with heads down, rushing toward their desks? Are they wearing suits or jeans and T-shirts? Is it an open- or closed-door environment, shared desk space, or “cube farm?” Continue to observe as you walk through the building.

Working through these six tips will allow you to gather valuable information on your specific “must haves” and “nice to haves” for culture fit. As you might imagine, there is no definitive right or wrong answer. It’s all about your “must haves.” Evaluating the culture fit of the organization, for you, is an important piece of criteria toward deciding whether a great job is truly the right career move for you.

Nick Murphy is the host of The Job Lab Podcast, an NFL veteran, experienced HR Tech entrepreneur, father of five, speaker, and frequent contributor on topics related to jobs and careers. His corporate experience includes tenures at three of the world’s largest job sites: CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed.com and starting his own thought leadership and career consulting services businesses, Job Spot in 2014 and Mid-America Careers in 2017. Murphy often offers commentary on a variety of topics, including entrepreneurship, work/life balance, Millennials in the workforce, career development, recruitment, and productivity. To listen or subscribe to The Job Lab Podcast click here.


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