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If Culture is so important in your next job, what is your plan to accurately assess a culture?

What a busy labor market!! This is the most ‘candidate driven’ market I have seen in my 20 years in the recruiting business. Thank goodness for the “Great Resignation”, or we might have even more trouble finding great candidates for our client’s jobs 😊.  

There are many reasons why people (or yourself) are considering new jobs; being asked back into the office, having broader opportunities around the country, taking financial advantage of a competitive market, a large shift to Cloud environments, career advancement…AND a better culture!  

As good recruiters, our job is to ensure we fully understand these Job-decision factors. One answer we frequently hear is “I want a good culture”. Helping candidates define what this means to them can take a few minutes to flush out, especially given that many environments are remote. 

Few things are more devastating than leaving a good job to find that GREAT job, only to end up in a bad culture and debate having to do the process all over again; and now explaining why you are looking for yet another job.  

Our first and most significant piece of advice is to really think about what ‘culture’ means to you!  Ask yourself: “What features of the company culture are most important to me?” Consider your own values and the types of environments that have been a good match for you in the past. Going into your interviews with these factors already in mind will help keep them salient for you. 

Once we determine cultural preferences, our next question is “how will you determine the culture of an organization”? The answers we have received seem to tell us that many candidates are not fully aware of how-to asses this. Since it is so important, we wanted to provide some suggestions:  

  1. Research: You can always look at a company’s reviews in Glassdoor, Indeed Company Reviews, Vault, CareerBliss, and others. (Check out for large list).  
  2. Ask “culture” related questions to your interviewers. We recommend you choose from one of the following, 3 – 4 that best address your interests.  
  3. How would you characterize the company’s overall management style?  
  4. What is your company’s approach to career development?  
  5. How does your company respond to and overcome failures?  
  6. How are employees recognized for their efforts?  
  7. What is the work-life balance like here?  
  8. How are disagreements dealt with?  
  9. What personality traits do you look for in your ideal team members?  
  10. Is the company’s strategic approach driven more by processes or results?  
  11. How do the company’s different departments collaborate with one another?  
  12. What kinds of people seem to succeed in this company/department?  
  13. What do YOU like about working here, and what would you change?  
  14. Ask to talk to a peer, or two! Asking managers to describe the environment may not get you the best assessment, as they are not in ‘your’ shoes. Ask to talk to someone who is in a similar role, and ideally been there less than a year…as they will have just assimilated and have a great perspective for you. Ask some of the same questions above.  

Getting into a culture that matches your style will go a long way in helping you enjoy your new job, can result in better coworker relationships and a feeling of belonging. Please think about what that culture means to you and have a plan to assess that culture and take that new job confidently!