How to Decide if an Employer’s Culture is Right for You

Like this on Facebook

It’s long been demonstrated that companies that create great work cultures see big benefits from doing so. They experience lower turnover and better financial performance than their peers, see improved track records on safety and customer satisfaction, and are sought out by better quality job applicants.

What’s less obvious is the payoff enjoyed by the individual employee who smartly chooses their workplace culture. As you interview for your next job, being attuned to critical cultural elements won’t just inform that important next career step, if you choose well, it’ll lift your on-the-job engagement, productivity and overall wellbeing and satisfaction.

Make sure to keep these strategies in mind as you assess the culture of your next employer:

1. Watch How People Relate To Each Other:

Often times we’re so worried about our own performance in an interview, we don’t notice how the company’s employees interact with each other. Ken Daubenspeck, CEO of Daubenspeck and Associates, an executive search firm that focuses on culture matching advises, “Interviewees should pay particular attention to the touch points between people in the organization. Try and notice how peers interact with each other, and how managers treat employees.” When dealing with a panel interview for example, are people speaking over each other—plainly interrupting colleagues—or are they respectfully letting others finish their thoughts? Is there a peer to peer kind of feeling among those interacting or is their more deference and hierarchy observed?

2. Pay Attention To The Mundane:

Author George Anders aptly noted, “Companies reveal their personas in the ways they handle life’s most routine tasks.” Notice how your interviews and meetings are scheduled, what coordination happens between parties, even how happy and engaged your interviewers are. A friend once spent a full day interviewing at a management consultancy and while there, 2 of her 6 interviews were spontaneously cancelled. An additional interviewer didn’t know he was scheduled with her and was replaced with someone who was unprepared and uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, my friend didn’t pursue the opportunity further. When she later checked tell-all site Glassdoor.com, she wasn’t surprised to see that the number one complaint from employees was a culture of disorder and dysfunction!

3. Be Highly Attuned To Your Potential Boss:

It’s been said that people don’t quit their jobs—or even their companies—they quit their bosses. In fact, 70% of those who voluntarily leave roles, cite that it was their boss, specifically, that they were leaving behind. Your manager has an everyday impact on your ability to stretch yourself and grow, and on a more basic level, they shape your experience of feeling welcomed and respected. Notice how your potential boss relates to you, how optimistically or pessimistically she speaks about your role, and how she responds to the question, “What would your ideal partnership look like with the person that assumes this role?”

4. Delve Into Conflict:

As counter-intuitive as it may feel to grill a prospective employer, asking questions about how disagreement is managed can be telling. Recommends Daubenspeck, “The nature and culture of any business enterprise is defined by interaction, and more specifically, by conflict and resolution. Ask the interviewer, ‘How does the organization handle differences of opinion when collaborating? When goals are thwarted, how do you handle it as a team? As a manager, how do you personally resolve conflict?’” Noticing how several people respond to this line of questioning should give you a clear sense of how democratic or top-down the culture is—and on a simpler level, what informal rules exist.

In the end, it behooves anyone interviewing for a job to have as many interactions as possible with a future employer. Key into the culture the same ways an anthropologist or management consultant is trained to, using the skills above. Then be painstakingly honest with yourself about the results.

How have you gotten a sense of an employer’s culture? What’s a red flag to watch out for?

This article appeared in Forbes on September 26, 2014.

Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash.
Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership.  A seasoned human capital consultant, Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women.  She’s also the author of two leadership books targeted at professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has been featured in the LA Times, Oprah.com, Todayshow.com, Forbes, and wrote an award-winning column on women for The Washington Post.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…
Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…

Ask a woman to name her signature strengths and she’ll often squirm in her chair,

It’s OK to Ask For Help
It’s OK to Ask For Help

It’s easy to imagine that our role models, leaders, and other highly successful people have

Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup
Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup

Want to smarten up, expand your thinking, and procrastinate a bit longer on that tedious

Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills
Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills

I recently attended a women’s leadership dinner and heard a young woman ask the speaker—a

Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.
Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.

“Learn to just say no. No explanation, no excuse, no apology.”—Fawn Germer  

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Are you looking for motivation to help you take charge of your career trajectory? Here

Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate
Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate

Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate. You’ve heard it before: the squeaky wheel gets

5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand and Reputation at Work
5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand and Reputation at Work

The idea of being a “quiet leader” has always appealed to me. I was never

How to Assert Yourself When You’re Dismissed
How to Assert Yourself When You’re Dismissed

Have you ever sat in a meeting and felt ignored or utterly unimportant?  Perhaps you

The Best Advice Our Moms Gave Us
The Best Advice Our Moms Gave Us

Moms are always right.  Aren’t they?! In honor of the special guidance that so many

3 People Who Add Instant Influence to Your Network
3 People Who Add Instant Influence to Your Network

While it’s useful to cultivate an extensive network of professional contacts, it’s even more beneficial

Leaderly Quote: The world is not changed by people who sort of care.
Leaderly Quote: The world is not changed by people who sort of care.

”The world is not changed by people who sort of care,” says branding expert Sally Hogshead.

4 Ways to Shrink Your Wage Gap
4 Ways to Shrink Your Wage Gap

What to do if you think you’re paid less than your male colleague? Realizing you’re

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are our most-read, most-popular, career changing articles this month on Be Leaderly. Which ones

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly