How to determine culture fit before you start your next job.

If had a dollar for every time a candidate has told me that they left a job because “it just wasn’t a good fit”, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog today. How you may or may not fit at your job is becoming an increasingly more important aspect of consideration among candidates and employers. Therefore, it’s important to remember when you’re going through the interview process, a recruiter or hiring manager has three possible contexts for evaluating you – resume, personality and ‘fit’. Just as you are being evaluated, you must evaluate each position. With that in mind I’d like to share these suggestions to help you determine the culture fit during your interview process.

Culture is perhaps the single most important way in which employees describe the environment where they work. It shapes their understanding of the employer’s business vision and helps employees orient themselves within the organization. I hear from and see plenty of company leaders who don’t realize that establishing a unique and supportive company culture will lead to success and increased levels of top employee retention. In addition to retaining talent, a positive culture helps to attract talent and this is what separates winning organizations from others.

A culture review will help you assess the culture that exists in a prospective employer’s company. This review can also help job seekers decide where to move next.

Complete a culture review on your prospective company during your next interview by using the following questions:
• Are employees at this company compensated fairly? Is the salary on par with competitors?
• Is the benefit program comparable to those of a company’s competitors?
• Does the company have programs in place that demonstrate they value your work? This can range from awards to bonuses, or even be as basic as regular performance appraisals.
• Does the company invest in training to ensure employee success? If so, what type of training is it and how frequently does it occur. Can you tailor it to your interest?
• Ask everyone you meet in the interview process to describe the company culture in their own words. Ask why they like working there. You might be surprised at what you hear or don’t hear.
• Does management have an open door policy? Is there a good stream of employee communication in the company?
• Are employees challenged and given the resources to meet those challenges? Research this by looking on LinkedIn and make connections with people you know. Ask questions.
• Do your values match those of the company? This one can be answered – in small part – by reviewing a mission statement, but talking with several tiers of employees is the very best guide if you can. It might take some extra effort, but it’s worth it. Never rely solely on a mission statement to determine culture fit.

These or similar questions are often asked in an exit interview. Don’t wait until you’re burned out or frustrated with your job – ask these questions first, before you invest time, energy and creativity in becoming a great employee.

Keep in mind that culture reviews can reveal both the good and bad – potential points of friction as well as opportunities for growth. The review should be a positive experience – after all you’re learning about the company’s culture and learning about yourself in the process…determining what’s most important to you in your work environment. Self-assessment is a very important component to finding a satisfying career path.

Try this review on your next potential career prospect, and please tell us how it worked.

Good luck,
David Lammert

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