On a recent call with a coaching client, we got to talking about her job search and preparing for her interviews.

There are many things to understand when interviewing.

What is the total compensation?

What are the benefits?

What are your job responsibilities?

What is the size of the team you will be working on?

What is the work you will be producing and why?

One of the main things she wants to ensure is that she does not move from one culture frying pan to another. She is leaving because she does not feel like she belongs. The culture does not fully reflect her values. She is frustrated with herself because she feels like she should have known more about the culture before accepting the position.

And I told her what I am telling you.

Determining a culture can be tricky.

Simply asking, “how would you describe the work culture”  will often get you the canned answer but not the real skinny.

How Do You Discern a Culture? 

Here are some tips on how to dig deeper into a culture both on the interview and through your own research.

1. Ask several cultural questions:

  • Please describe the company culture and the team culture.
  • How do your employees get to know each other, especially if they are not on the same team?
  • How do you celebrate employees’ success?
  • How do decisions get made?
  • Describe your DEI initiatives
  • How do you professionally develop your employees?
  • What might be the career path for someone who is in this role and how do they get there?
  • What would an ex-employee say was the worst part of working here? The best?

2. Check out their website and their benefits. Do they talk about culture on their website? Do they speak directly to DEI initiatives? Do they offer mental health benefits, a flexible schedule, and a meditation room?

3. Use LinkedIn to find ex-employees. Then reach out to a couple that seem like they may have worked in your same department. Then ask them to describe the best and worst about the company? The boss? Ask what they wish they would have known before joining? Ask why they left.

4. Get Your Facts Straight 

  • Blind – An anonymous community app for the workplace. On their site, you can find colleagues, source possible job leads and get insights into a company you are pursuing.
  • Download the Fishbowl app on your phone and get a feed of what other professionals in your industry are saying
  •  Reddit – Type in a company you are interested in and get current news and follow the feed of comments for interesting info
  • Glassdoor  – A site where current and former employees anonymously review companies. Glassdoor also allows users to anonymously submit and view salaries as well as search and apply for jobs.

One Person’s Trash Culture is Another Person’s Treasure Culture

A big thing to remember is that what may be considered the worst part of working somewhere (being onsite) for one person might be something exactly what you are looking for in your next role. Take all the feedback with a grain of salt.

You might decide not to pursue a company because of what you read online and that is time saved. But another way to use what you found during your research is to expand on the lists of questions you ask during the interview.

Career Coaching TIP: Ask everyone the same 1 or 2 culture questions. Getting alternate perspectives on the same topic is invaluable.

Ready to take your job search up a notch?  Sign up for One-on-One coaching with Laurie and create your path to success!