4 Ways to Learn About a Company’s Culture Before You Accept a Job Offer

A great company culture can make a big difference in your work experience.

4 Ways to Learn About a Company’s Culture Before You Accept a Job Offer

When researching a job opening, your focus is often on the responsibilities of the job, the location, and how much it pays. While the what and where of a job is important, it’s also important to discover what makes up the company’s culture as you move through the interview process.

Company culture, sometimes referred to as organizational or corporate culture, is defined as the shared values and behaviors that make up an organization. All companies have a different culture. Netflix, for example, is well-known for its competitive culture with radical transparency and accountability, while Google is known for its creative, fun and flexible culture. While all cultures should be inclusive and respectful, different people will prefer different cultures. So how can you find out what kind of culture exists at a company before actually joining that company? While it’s impossible to know everything that makes up a company culture before working there, there are still strategies to discover what kind of culture a company offers. Here are 4 ways:

Research how the company describes its culture.

If a company has information about their culture on their website or other channels, chances are they’re going to present it in the best light possible. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some really valuable information and get an idea of what it’s like to work there.

Many companies will highlight their company culture in the “Careers” section of their website, or on external profile pages, like RippleMatch’s Discover Companies page. What a company decides to highlight about their culture is probably a pretty accurate representation of what their culture is like. If a company describes their “collaborative and open culture,” you likely won’t be dealing with an office where everyone keeps to themselves. A ‘fast-paced, hard-working culture’ could mean a very focused work environment with long hours, where a ‘relaxed’ culture might place more of an emphasis on work-life balance.

Remember, a company wants to hire employees who will be happy working there so it’s in their best interest to convey their company culture as accurately as possible. Consume any materials the company offers on their culture to begin to form an idea of what it’s like to work there.

Research how employees (past and present) describe the culture.

Once you’ve discovered how a company describes its culture, take your research a step further and research what employees think. A great place to start is Glassdoor, which allows past and present employees to leave reviews on the work environment of a company. However, while Glassdoor can give you a lot of great insight into a company’s culture, be sure you’re wary of when the review was posted and if it seems to be an isolated experience. A lot can change in an organization in a span of a year, and one individual’s experience isn’t always representative of a culture. Look out for repeated themes, good or bad, to help form your opinion.

If you want to expand your research beyond Glassdoor, check out if the company posts regular content regarding their culture. Atlassian, for example, has an “Inside Atlassian” section of their corporate blog which regularly features articles from different team members and sometimes provides a glimpse into different facets of their company culture. If a company doesn’t have a blog with that kind of insight, try searching on LinkedIn for employees of the company to see if they’re sharing any thoughts or opinions about company life.

Ask about company culture during the interview process.

When you’re in the final stages of an interview process, be sure to ask a few questions that shed some light on a company’s culture. Here are a few ideas if you’re unsure how to broach the topic:

  • How would you describe the company culture here?
  • What is your favorite part about working here?
  • What are some initiatives your company has to define and constantly improve the company culture?
  • What do you think makes the company culture here unique?
  • What is the best way to learn more about the company culture here?

Remember that the interview process is a two-way street. Learning about the culture of a company can help you assess if you think you could be happy with your coworkers and the working environment if you end up taking the job.

Pay attention to how you were treated throughout the interview process.

While not completely indicative of a company’s culture, your treatment throughout your interview process can give you a glimpse at what employees do, and not just what they say. Did you feel respected? How did you feel about your communication with hiring managers or anyone else you spoke with? Did you get to speak to a wide range of employees? You don’t need to write off the entire company if you felt uncomfortable with any of your interactions, but it’s something to consider if you’re faced with a job offer.

You’re going to spend a lot of time working in your lifetime – approximately 90,000 hours! – so you should do your best to find a workplace culture that makes you feel secure, inspired, and excited to come to work. Finding a job with a high salary and a prestigious title is nice, but a great company culture can make all the difference.

This article was written by Kate Beckman for RippleMatch. Sign up for RippleMatch to automate your job or internship search. Once you complete a free profile, RippleMatch surfaces great job opportunities and matches you directly with recruiters that want to talk with you.

By Troy Hopkins
Troy Hopkins Director, Undergraduate Career Counseling