Finding the right company culture is like finding the perfect romantic match. You may have to date a ton of duds first, but along the way you figure out the right questions to ask. These four questions will help candidates gauge if a company’s culture is right for them:
1. Why is the role open? It’s important to understand why the position is open in the first place. Was the last person promoted? Were they fired? Did they quit? If they were promoted, find out what they did to help them succeed. Do you have those qualities? If they were fired, ask for specific reasons why. Did they struggle to keep up? Were they a weak writer? Did they lack the creativity and attention to detail that the role required? Ask yourself if these are areas of weakness for you. If they quit, ask why. There could potentially be high turnover within the organization.
2. How do you define success in the role? In order to be great, do you have to be the first one in and the last to leave? Do you have to be creative? Or more analytical? Do you have to come up with new initiatives to increase traffic? Will you be expected to exceed your goals and take on more? Ask yourself whether you have those qualities and abilities. Think about whether they play to your strengths.
3. How does the team collaborate? Know your work style. Do you prefer to be on an island, completely independent, or do you need constant collaboration? Each company is different and has different ways of working.
4. Is the culture within the department different from the rest of the company? Understanding the company culture isn’t enough. You also have to understand the culture within the department that you’re applying to. If you’re at an agency, the culture within the design team could be completely different from the production team. If you’re in-house, find out how the team works with the rest of the company. Do employees work together to hit their goals? Do they hold each other accountable? Do they have fun?
You may not like what the employees or manager have to say, and that’s OK. There are different kinds of companies and different kinds of cultures. One culture isn’t necessarily better than the other. The important thing is identifying what’s right for you before accepting a position.