One of the most common reasons a candidate is rejected for a position is that s/he “is not a good fit culturally.” Culture fit is especially important in collaborative technology environments such as software development and IT, where interpersonal relationships and working styles matter just as much as technical skills and abilities.
Culture can be defined by: industry (insurance is very different than a Silicon Valley tech start-up); location (think rural NH vs. NYC); work style (remote workforce vs. office-based); and management structure (hierarchical vs. flat), among others. Incorporated within a culture can be the level of education and training a job requires, open work spaces verses individual offices/cubicles, casual versus business attire, hours of operation, and types of clients served. Yet, culture is difficult to pinpoint at times because not only does its definition vary from company to company and person to person, it’s also not readily summed up and spoken publicly, say on a website or in a press release. So, as a candidate, how do you identify a company’s culture and whether or not you’re a fit?
Review the company’s website. Look beyond the home page for clues that will divulge an organization’s culture. The content of the “Careers” section often contains language about the environment and management style. On the “About Us” page, you will often find the company’s mission statement. Also, pay attention to the style of the website and the images used.
Make the best use of your interview. If you are brought into the company for an interview, ask culture-based questions such as, “How does the company encourage a work/life balance?” and “Does the company sponsor any employee bonding outings?” Look around while you are there and make some observations. What is the office environment like? Is there an open environment or is everyone tucked away in their own offices? What is the office décor like: modern and sleek or old and tired?
Ask people who work there. Your best friend might work at a company you’re interested in or you might have a casual connection with someone through LinkedIn; either way, ask them what it’s like to work there. Pose questions like, “What is the office set up like?” “How does the organization keep morale high?” “Does the company encourage employee input into projects?”
Check out company review websites. Websites like “Glassdoor.com” and “Vault.com” collect reviews of companies by former and current employees, and contain valuable inside information about a company.
Ask your recruiter. Your recruiter should have good insight into what the company is like and what their ideal candidate looks like. He or she will likely pre-screen you for cultural fit before you are even recommend for an interview with a company.
A technology staffing company must grasp a good understanding of the unique culture of any organization in order to place the right candidate in the right position. At Market Street Talent, we conduct several conversations with key executives and onsite visits to delve into the current culture and the culture the company is striving to achieve. We then look at each candidate with an eye towards the potential culture fit as well as skills and experience in order to achieve the most seamless and successful placements.
How do you research an organization’s culture?