Decoding corporate culture: key questions to consider when evaluating that new job

As I’m sure everyone has been told, the interview process is not only a way for a company to assess your fit, but also your opportunity to interview the company. You need to ask yourself the question, ‘Is this somewhere I would like to come to everyday?’ We are told over and over again that we spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our families, a fact that makes it all the more important to ensure that there is a cultural fit.

Many companies (especially in the tech industry) are moving towards developing corporate cultures that  set them apart in order to foster employee engagement and thrive in a tight labour market. The problem is, a company’s corporate culture is not something that you can understand from looking at their mission statement or taking someone’s word for it – you need to experience it for yourself! One type of corporate culture is not suited for everyone; different personalities thrive in different cultures. This is why it is so important to ask questions and be observant throughout the entire interview process. 

How do you experience a company’s corporate culture during the interview process? Arrive early for your interview! A lot of a company’s corporate culture can be observed while you sit in the waiting area.

Here are some key areas to take note of throughout the interview process:

Style

  • What is the dress code?
  • What is the energy level in the office? (e.g. is it buzzing, quiet, chaotic?)
  • Where is the office located? Is it a trendy neighborhood or an industrial park?
  • Does the company believe in work/life balance? What are the business hours?

Office Space

  • How is the office space arranged?
  • Who has an office and who has a cubicle?
  • Are senior executives hidden away on their own floor where you need special access?
  • What are the common areas used for?
  • What is displayed on the walls and posted on bulletin boards?
  • What do employees have on their desks? 

Social

  • How do employees interact with one another?
  • How do employees interact with you? Are you acknowledged?
  • What does the company do for fun? What types of social events have they had in the past? How often? (Pictured is a shot from a recent monthly Intelex patio party.)
  • Are employees working in teams or independently?

Professional Development

  • What opportunities and resources are available for professional development?
  • What is the company’s policy on promoting from within?
  • How is success measured?
  • How are employees recognized?

Lastly, ask everyone you meet throughout the interview process how long they have been with the company and how they would describe the company’s culture. Take each opportunity to gage whether you are getting an individual perspective with a consistent underlying message. Most important, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions!

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