How to find the company culture that’s right for you

28 Jun 2016

In the tech world, when it comes to hiring, we’re currently very much in a candidate’s market, with companies having to do more and more to make themselves attractive to potential employees. One thing that can help set a company aside from all others is culture. Hays’ Jennifer Dillon explains what candidates should look for.

Every company – whether old or new, large or small – has a culture specific to it, so this prompts us to ask ourselves, why does culture matter so much?

The reason, as I see it, is that most of us spend a large portion of our week in work with lots of different people, managers and co-workers. If we don’t fit with them, we’re never going to be happy.

I remember some years ago hearing about a candidate who had accepted a job and, before starting, was invited to attend the company’s Christmas party. Whatever the candidate witnessed, they were not enamoured of the organisation and they ended up not joining at all.

Nowadays, it’s okay to want to enjoy your job, so it’s acceptable to seek out an environment that you will be happy in.

Do your research

So how do you find out about a company’s culture even before you apply for a job or meet them at interview?

Your first step should be to look at their website. Some companies will have details about their culture within the job specification or on a HR page. There might be some information on what it is like to work there, or a list of benefits offered, which might give some insight into the company culture.

Checking out reviews on Glassdoor might also give an indication of a company’s culture. Do take these reviews with a pinch of salt, though, as you should be looking for a common thread of information, not just a once-off comment.

Other sources of information might be the company’s LinkedIn or Facebook profile. You will be able to see who works there, recent news items, projects they are working on, their CSR policy, and also what industries current employees came from. Are they similar to you? Do they have similar interests?

Ask questions

The next important opportunity for you to find out about a company’s culture is at the interview – or, as in many cases now, interviews.

Usually there are at least two stages in the interview process for permanent roles, but it is not uncommon for candidates to have four or five interviews. The advantage of this is that it gives you – the candidate – the opportunity to meet numerous people, at various levels of experience, who work in the organisation.

Be aware, though, that this is also an opportunity for employers to vet you to make sure you have the skills they’re looking for, and that you’re the best fit for the company.

Throughout the interview process, ask as many questions of the interviewer as possible. How long have they worked there? What attracted them to the company? What is the company culture like? What are the working hours? Is there a social committee? All of these can be good ways to find out the information you need.

Look beyond the perks

The start-ups and tech companies of today always seem to be competing against each other for the coolest culture and the best workplace perks. But before you make a decision on a job based on the ping-pong table or endless array of free chocolate, there are some important things you need to think about.

What motivates you? What makes you happy or unhappy? What work-life balance do you seek?

Knowing what is right for you at this stage in your life will help you seek out the right information to help you make the right decision. When the culture of a company and candidate fit, it can be a truly rewarding experience for all.

Jennifer Dillon is a Senior Account Director at Hays Specialist Recruitment.

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Main image via Shutterstock

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