Before accepting a job offer, you should give some thought to the company’s culture—the combination of an organization’s policies, values, politics and management style that impacts how people work together, solve problems and celebrate achievements. Perhaps even more than your work itself, a company’s culture determines whether you’re going to be happy in your job.
Some things to consider:
- The company’s reputation. A company’s reputation is often a reflection of its culture. What is the organization known for—developing their people? Fast growth and opportunity? Creative freedom and flexibility? Talk to friends and colleagues about their perceptions of the organization.
- The company’s mission and values statements . Mission and values statements may provide some insight, but don’t overestimate their presence in the organization. In your interview, ask for examples of how they’re demonstrated daily in the office and whether they’re considered in performance appraisals.
- The company’s internal relations. Ask direct questions during the interview about the company’s culture, and observe how people interact with each other while you’re on site. Do you hear laughter or soft voices in the hallways? Did the assistant address her boss as Bob or Mr. Smith? In which environment would you feel most comfortable?
- The company’s customer relations. Put yourself in the position of the company’s customer or client by calling to request information or customer service. While this indicator may require a little more effort than the others, how you’re treated as a customer may offer a glimpse of how you might be treated as an employee.
- The company’s business relationships. Business relationships are another good indicator of how you can expect be treated as an employee. Talk to vendors, contractors, consultants and former employees about the company’s culture. People not tied to the organization for their livelihood are in a safe position to answer your questions candidly.
SOURCE: Personnel Decisions International, Minneapolis, August 27, 1999.