Sneaky Ways To Figure Out A Company’s Workplace Culture
Posted October 2, 2019, by Elesha
The salary is great and you can already see yourself broadcasting your new title to everyone on the socials - but is a decent paycheck and a fancy-schmancy title enough to really love your job? What about workplace culture?
Let's take a look at why you need to get a pulse on your future employer's company culture - and how to do it a bit sneakily - before you accept the position.
What Is Workplace Culture?
Broadly speaking, workplace culture is like the personality of a company.
It’s one of those intangible things that can be the difference between a good workplace, a great workplace and a workplace you wish you’d never stepped into.
Workplace culture includes the values, goals, ethics and expectations of an organisation as well as the environment and the type of people that work there.
Here are a few ways to scope out the workplace culture of your future employer before accepting the position -
Sleuth During Your Wait Time
It’s likely you’ll be waiting in reception for a few minutes before you get called into the interview room. Use that time to scope out the office environment.
Watch how people interact with each other and how they dress - is it formal and corporate or more of a casual laid back vibe?
If you have to walk to the interview room through an open plan office space, check out the desks - do staff have personal items, like photos, around? Is the place in desperate need of Marie Kondo decluttering help or are things tidy and organised?
Do people look stressed? Is there a chatty hum or is it so quiet you could hear a pin drop?
These things can give small clues that indicate the type of workplace culture you may be stepping into.
Observe The Body Language Of Your Interviewer
The interviewer will no doubt be taking note of your body language (here’s why you should work on it before the interview!) but you should also be observing theirs.
If your potential future boss is saying ‘I give a lot of freedom to my team’ but seems all uptight and has closed body language, their words might not align with his/her actions!
Stalk The Company Socials
Investigate any social platforms the organisation has - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter - and scroll through the last few months of posts.
Are there highlights of fun team building activities, community partnerships and charities events or things like fun runs and team sports?
Or are most posts strictly about products and services with little or no 'behind the scenes' highlights?
Organisations who are big on company culture will use social media to make sure the world knows their culture is important - including potential recruits. They know if they have a great culture, people will want to be part of it!
Questions You Can Ask To Find Out About A Workplace Culture
How do you ask about work culture in an interview?
Not by coming right out and saying “What is the company culture like?” which will likely prompt a generic, HR-approved answer.
Try these questions instead -
What was the last big achievement you celebrated as a team?
This will give a little insight into whether hitting major business goals are recognised and rewarded.
What employee team building / socialising opportunities do you offer - and how often?
If the answer is regular team building days, retreats, fun runs, after-work drinks in the boardroom or bar downstairs etc it’s a good indicator that the organisation encourages their employees to get along personally, rather than just work together.
Does the company partner with a community organisation or charity?
This is a key question to ask if it’s important to you that your personal values and how you like to 'give back' aligns with the organisation's social mission.
What did the people who held this position in the past move on to?
If they are still with the company it could indicate a company culture that retains employees and promotes or offers opportunities within the organisation.
What’s your favourite thing about working here?
If the interviewer meets your question with a pause of awkward silence before answering ‘the TV in the breakout room’ something isn’t right.
How do you help and encourage employees to learn new skills?
The best companies are the ones that embrace a workplace culture of ‘lifelong’ learning and support their employees to always be levelling up their skill, either through courses, on-site training or mentorship programs.
How Do You Know If The Company Is Right For You?
So you’ve done your research and feel like you’ve got a good idea of the company culture - but is it right for you?
Now it’s time to ask yourself a few questions -
Where do I want to be 5 years from now? Yep, that old chestnut. It might be cliched but if you don’t know where you’re heading, how do you know the organisation can help you get there?
It doesn’t have to be about a clear cut promotion path either. The scope to move sideways or opportunities to travel for assignments or secondments might be more important to you.
How do you perform at your best? Think back to a time when you were super motivated, productive and looked forward to work. What type of environment were you in? What were you working on and who were you working with? Would this new workplace be a similar fit?
What is most important to you? Family life, passion projects, health and fitness, socialising? These are all areas that company culture can fit in with and support - or hinder.
Want to know what a great company culture might look like? Check out this list of the best places to work in Australia.