The Most Important Piece of Job Search Advice: Job Seekers Need to Determine the Company Culture Before They are Hired

24 April 2019 Steve Merritt

Employees Working On Beanbags

Sometimes it seems that in order to land a good job with a good company there are too many ideas, tips and pieces of advice to remember. Experts will tell you how it is important to look the part by wearing the right outfit, presenting the proper attitude, and exhibiting the correct body language. They’ll sermonize about the importance of researching the company, reading the job description, and asking in-depth questions. 

However, the one thing they seem to overlook is probably the most important concept of all. For job seekers and employers to make the perfect job match they need to share a common personality. In business-speak this is known as the company culture. 


The Importance of Defining a Company’s Culture

A company’s culture is what describes the norms for accepted behavior within an organisation. It is the foundation for the values that employees are expected to observe. It is the single most important thing that influences the work environment. Yet, employees often overlook this fact when considering employment opportunities.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but small, family-owned businesses operate differently than non-profit organisations that both operate differently than large, publicly held conglomerates. Add to this the fact that working in manufacturing is not like working in the banking industry or the entertainment industry. Now throw in the fact that a start-up company has a completely different set of rules than a 100-year old corporation and it’s easy to see why company culture matters.

When you consider employment opportunities, you need to understand the work environment of the organisation and determine if this fits with your personal style and career goals.


Identifying the Right Company Culture 

When you take the time and put in the effort to participate in the job interview process, but overlook the work environment, you may be setting yourself up for issues further down the line. 

Work environments can vary greatly. They may be flexible or structured, reward creativity or promote the status quo, communicate from the top down or through the grapevine. They may be results-driven or relationship-driven, supportive of change or not, or any number of other environments. You need to make sure the company culture is aligned with your core values and beliefs. You can do this first by observing and second by asking the right questions. 

You should consider how you are treated during the interview and the overall feeling you get from the individuals you meet and the work environment. In addition, you should consider the interview process itself, such as whether the interviewers are on time and prepared. 

However, don’t stop there. Take the time to ask direct questions about the company culture and values. Find out how good work is recognized, what qualities make people successful, and if the company has a written code of ethics. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewers directly how they would describe the company culture. 

The whole idea is that you need to gather as much information as possible about the work environment. If you are seeking flexible work hours and an opportunity to participate actively in decision-making and the company has rigid rules and standards, it could be a bad fit. 

Company culture, value systems, and vision along with your personal work style need to blend well in order to make for a good match. That’s the most important piece of job search advice a job seeker can know.