5 Questions for Finding the Right Company Culture for You

When it comes to job interviews, one of the most common pieces of advice given by career coaches and hiring managers alike is to dress like you already work at the company you're interviewing with.


Why is that? Aside from your ability to do the job, HR managers want to hire employees that are a good fit for their company culture.


On average, employees who fit well into a company's culture are happier and more engaged, and companies that foster a positive culture outperform their competitors by a whopping 20%.


But finding the right culture fit isn't just important for companies. It should also be a driving factor in your job search.


After all, you've done the rest of the work. You know what type of job you are targeting, you know how to pitch yourself, your resume is polished and you're ready to be interviewed. Now it's time to get clear on what kind of culture you should be targeting when it comes to your next role.


Here are a few questions to consider that will help identify the type of business culture that you'd best thrive in.


1. How do you do your best work?

Are you someone who enjoys working on a big team? Or do you like being hands off, focusing solo on a project rather than having lots of input from others? If it's the former, targeting roles that encourage team players will likely suit you best. If it's the latter, try to steer clear of job postings that use these phrases.


During your interview: Take a look around at the office. Are there lots of employees meeting in open spaces? Or is everyone very closed off, heads down and hard at work? Though you may only get a few moments in the office to observe, it's worth taking note of whether or not it's a collaborative environment.


2. What motivates you?

Is it a compliment from a boss? A presentation that receives praise from a client? Or maybe it's getting a raise at the end of each successful year? Whatever it is that drives you, see if you can identify it at the role you're applying for. For example, a search on Glassdoor will tell you whether or not performance-based raises are given at the company you're interviewing with.


During your interview: Ask your interviewer how the company measures success, as well as what factors would make a person successful in the role that you're interviewing for. Their answer will give you valuable information on whether or not your motivation is in line with their metrics for success.


3. What's your preferred method of communication?

If you're experiencing an issue at work, do you prefer to speak to your boss about it face to face? If you're applying to a role at a company with many different offices, you may not have that opportunity. When you're searching for jobs, take note of where the company is based and how many offices they have. It could be that you'll only ever be in touch with your superiors remotely – which can be a blessing and a curse.

During your interview: Talk with your interviewer about the team you'll be joining interacts, as well as the relationship expectations with those who will be in charge of managing you. Knowing how much face time you'll get with the people you're expected to work closely with will give you a better idea of whether or not this role would be a good fit.


4. What are my priorities right now?

When you're looking at the benefits offered by a company, what is most important to you? Is it a health care plan that covers both you and your family? A healthy work life balance? Generous paid time off? Most job postings will list the bare bones of what they offer in terms of benefits, but a search into a company's reviews and ratings will give you a better idea of their employee’s level of satisfaction with their packages.


During your interview: Don't jump the gun and start getting into the nitty gritty of your benefits, but rather, take a good look at the employees you encounter during your time there. Do they look exhausted? Stressed out? Are they eating lunch at their desks while they're hammering away on a deliverable? All of the above would indicate that this company doesn't have much respect for work life balance.


5. What’s next for me?

Many people spend 5 years or less in EVERY job.  So it makes sense to consider what you want in the future.  Are you looking to stay in a job function or industry for a few years?  Do you want to join a company where you can learn a lot quickly and move on?  A place where you can continue to grow and climb through the ranks? 


During the interview: Ask about career growth and professional development programs.  How long have your interviewers been in their roles and with the company?  Do they typically promote internally or look for external talent?  What are the company’s top priorities for the next 3 years? 5 years?  Use these questions to determine what your lifespan is at this company.


Don't discount the importance of company culture during your job search. Finding a company culture that aligns with your priorities will impact your overall job satisfaction.


When you work for a company that values the same things as you do, it's much easier to feel fulfilled on the job.


Mary Beth Ferrante