Understanding Company Culture

Let’s talk about being a candidate and learning about the company culture.

If you look at the definitions of corporate culture, they do talk about beliefs and behaviors determining the company culture but don’t really go into detail on HOW those beliefs or behaviors determine culture.

Let’s shift the thought process for a minute and say then that culture is a set of behaviors that are accepted within the organization. It is not the dress code itself, but what happens when someone doesn’t adhere to the dress code. What happens to that individual? The hours themselves are not culture, but instead what happens when an employee doesn’t adhere to those hours? THAT will give you the culture of an organization.

The difficulty becomes learning about that culture. Reviews online aren’t always accurate. Recruiters don’t always communicate accurately (not necessarily through any fault of their own) what the company culture is. So, we’re left reading about them, listening to the CEO or owner in their online video to try to gain a greater understanding. Still, not completely effective. What should we do?

Let’s instead look at the pattern of behaviors as indicators of the company culture. When you’re interviewing, pay extra attention to things like time between contacts, pace of the recruiter, are they answering your questions thoroughly, do they seem annoyed with your questions, are they hesitant to respond to you, do they follow up when they say they will, do they express frustration with management, etc. Conversely, do they love their job and really understand the scope of your position and the role within the company? Have they been there long enough to embody those ideas, or does it sound scripted?

Don’t overlook the value of these minute things. When taken in their entirety, they can give you good insight into a company culture. If culture is important to you, look further than the shiny parts.

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