Company culture is all about how an organisation’s owners and employees think, feel and behave. Sometimes companies sum up their culture in their mission statement, or it might be something that’s left unsaid, but as an interview candidate, getting up-close and personal with a company’s culture will pay huge dividends when you find yourself in front of the interview panel.
Company culture is all about values, about beliefs and about how company members interact with each other as well as with their clients or customers. It includes things like the language they use to communicate; the standards they live by; their vision for the future and assumptions they make about their position in the market.
In order to position yourself strongly regarding company culture before an interview, you need to do some research. There are plenty of things you can do ahead of your interview and during your interview to suss out company culture. Here are just some of them.
Before interview, you can:
Look on the company website. Although a company website will only share the information that the organisation decides to disclose, it’s still a good place to get a feel for what the bosses think their culture is like. Images of staff, comments about customers or achievements are all indicators of what values and standards a business has.
Trawl the social media. Social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great places to find out what customers, potential customers, staff and management are saying about your prospective employer. Following the odd conversation or two online will give you real insight into how people outside the company view them as well as they way people from inside deal with their public.
Search on YouTube. Companies often use YouTube to host training and, or publicity videos that mightn’t otherwise be in the public domain. While it may take a bit of time to track these down, they will give you a good insight into what makes the company tick.
Seek out connections to speak with. Looking at people you may have in common on the social media or in face-to-face networks will allow you to discretely do your research about company culture so you can ascertain whether or not you think you and the prospective employer might be a match made in heaven.
On the interview day you could consider:
Doing a bit of kerb-side detective work. You can learn a lot about company culture by watching how staff are dressed; what time they arrive at work; what time they leave and what they do during their lunch breaks. While you might feel a tiny bit ‘cloak and dagger’ observing in such a way, a good way to overcome any stress is to find a nearby coffee shop or parking space where you can look on unnoticed.
Getting talking to the reception staff. On the day of your interview, if you’re not feeling too nervous and you feel it’s appropriate, it’s a good tactic to chat to the reception staff while you’re waiting for your interview. You could ask about things like where staff hang out; what they do together; if there are any clubs in the workplace. All of these things will give you an insight into how social the workplace is and how they interact together.
Asking questions during your interview. Asking questions about things like the frequency of staff meetings, busy periods and working hours will give you a good idea of whether or not the company is one that welcomes significant input from staff or not. In addition you’ll get an idea whether the culture is “first out of the car park is a loser” or not as well as whether every week is a dash to the finishing line.
- Observing. Looking around the building while you’re at interview will tell you a lot about company culture. How staff dress, how they treat each other in the corridor and whether or not they are going about their business with a smiling face won’t tell you everything, but will give you a really good idea about the happiness of the ship that is your potential new workplace.
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