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5 Ways to Evaluate Company Culture During a Job Interview

Every company is not one-size-fits-all. Here’s how to determine if it’s the right fit for you. [TWEET]

Interviewing is a mutual process of getting to know one another that ultimately allows you, the candidate, and a prospective employer to determine if you’ll fit into the company culture, be productive and thrive in their work environment.

As a job seeker, you have a skill set, a background and a personality that, when plugged into the right place, will help make the organization productive and profitable. A wrong fit, however, does nobody any good. Since you’ll invest significant time and energy into your next job, it’s in your best interest to do your research and determine if the company culture is the right fit before you accept a job offer.

Luckily, there are many resources available to help you make this assessment. Start by taking advantage of sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor and talking to employees who currently work at the company to gain valuable insights into the work environment and culture. However, there is only so much you can learn about an organization beforehand. You won’t see the whole picture until you visit the company for a face-to-face interview. This is one of the most important (and often overlooked) opportunities to learn what the job is really like.

Here are five questions to ask yourself during the interview process that will help you decide whether the job will be a good fit for you:

What is their interview scheduling process like?

A good clue as to the organization and professionalism of a company is how they schedule an interview with you. Do they give you enough notice so you can clear your schedule, or do they expect you to be available on a moment’s notice? How they perform this step is likely indicative of how they typically interact with their employees. If you need to travel to the interview, take note of how this is handled as well.

How are you received when you arrive?

When you arrive for the interview, what is your first impression? Is it warm and welcoming or cold and foreboding? Is there is a receptionist? If so, do they know to expect you or are they surprised by your presence? Are you offered a glass of water? All these little things speak volumes about the company culture.

Do they respect your time?

It is never acceptable for a candidate to be late for an interview, but candidates should also take note of how well their time is respected. Of course, emergencies can happen, but if you are not greeted by the appointed start time of the interview, this could be a red flag. This is especially true if no one offers you an apology or explanation.

What types of questions do they ask?

Pay close attention to the questions that are asked in the interview, because these are almost always indicative of the problems the organization is having that they will want you to solve. Having problems is not in and of itself an issue, but depending on your skill set and tolerance, some may be right up your alley and some may leave you saying ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ For example, if they spend a lot of time asking how you respond to angry customers and critical supervisors, you can be sure this will be a part of your job, should you choose to accept it.

How are things left once the interview is over?

Are you given clear timelines and expectations or is it left vague and open ended? Did you get the feeling they enjoyed meeting you, or was the process cold and sterile?

While there is no way to know exactly what a company is like until you work there, these cues will give you a reasonably good idea of what to expect. Remember, this isn’t necessarily about good and bad, as some environments will appeal more to certain individuals than others. Take a moment to define what is important to you, and then figure out how well the prospective employer measures up.

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Write your resume like a pro.

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