Deciding whether or not a company is the right cultural fit for you is just as important as acing the interview.

Even if your position allows you to highlight your most impressive skills and do the type of work that you enjoy most, you might find the day-to-day environment within your office to be exhausting, or worse yet, demoralizing. Believe it or not, nearly two thirds of Americans are unhappy at their current jobs. You don't want to join that crowd.

Discovering your cultural fit is not about “good” or “bad” cultures. The perfect company culture and work environment for one person may be another's complete nightmare. Yet, the importance of finding that ideal match is essential to career satisfaction. Here are a few interview tips to help make sure you discover your perfect cultural fit before accepting the job.

What is company culture?

According to Investopedia, company culture (or corporate culture) is the “beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact.” Essentially, company culture is everything about how a company operates; from its mission statement to the little perks, like free snacks.

Why does it matter? If you find yourself in a job with a company culture and work environment that doesn't work with your personality, it could end up being a daily struggle. That means your work will suffer and your relationship with your employers and fellow employees will too.

What do you look for in a company culture?

Do you Google a person before your first date? It's okay; you can admit it. It's natural to be curious and to do a little research to see if any red flags pop up.

Why wouldn't you do that for a company that wants to interview you?

It's not just about finding great information to have for those tricky interview questions. There are great resources out there like Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and Vault that can give you a snapshot on a company's culture. The best part? Most of the information comes from the employees who work there and have first-hand knowledge. 

What are people saying? Do they rave about the autonomy they have at work, or do they comment on the teamwork environment? Again, you're not necessarily looking for “good” or “bad” here. While some people thrive in a small company where management hangs out and has drinks with the staff at their weekly karaoke happy hour, you may be better suited to a more highly structured corporate environment. 

Don't forget to look at the “About Us” page on the company website. This page should give you an idea of their mission, values, goals, and what they stand for. Are they trying to become the biggest and baddest business on the block, or are they happy being smaller, but with a positive imprint on their local community? 

What is your ideal company culture?

Before you can continue assessing the company to see if it's the right company culture fit, you need to ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Who is involved in decision making?

  • Does the organization have a clearly communicated, coherent mission and strategic plan? 

  • Are teamwork and collaboration valued? 

  • Are employees rewarded based on merit or is there favoritism?

  • Does the organization encourage innovation and entrepreneurship? 

  • Is there a pattern of promotion from within? 

  • Does the company invest in training and professional development? 

  • Is mentorship encouraged? 

  • Is there an element of fun for employees who work there? 

  • Are employees afforded the flexibility to accommodate outside needs and interests?

Depending on the answers you come up with, use that as a base to gauge how the company fits into your values and ideals. By creating this framework for your ideal company culture, you will be able to hone in on it during the interview process to ensure that the company fits.   

Also, like it or not, one of the keys to finding a great company culture fit is to admit to yourself just how money-driven you are. If you are looking to develop a career with a fast, upward trajectory with impressive salaries and benefits, you might want to work for a larger corporation. Smaller companies frequently can't compete when it comes to salaries, but may have a number of other perks that facilitate a fun and creative workplace environment. 

Interview questions to ask a company to determine a cultural fit

Far too often people fall into the mentality of “they write the checks, so whatever they want goes.” Trying to make yourself fit into a company culture that isn't right for you is not beneficial for anyone involved. Treat your job hunt more like dating. You don't want to find someone just to have someone, you want to find the perfect match and to be that perfect match for them.

Never is this concept more applicable than during your interview with a potential employer. It's not just about you trying to get the job, it's about you and the employer trying to discover if you share the same goals and values, and are the right fit for the job position. 

How do you do that? You can't be afraid to turn the tables and ask them a few cultural fit interview questions. The right interview questions can help you discover their management style, workflow structure, and mission focus. Ask about their particular company culture, and then, make sure to ask about the things that matter to you. Here are some great examples to get you started: 

  • Do they promote from within? 

  • How will your work be evaluated? 

  • If you could describe the company culture here in three words, which would you choose and why?

  • What's one thing that's key to this company's success that an outsider wouldn't know about?

  • How would I get access to the information I'd need to be successful in this job?

  • What kinds of people are successful here? What kinds of people aren't?

  • How does the company recognize employee accomplishments?

By doing your own research and then asking the right cultural fit interview questions, you can set yourself up to properly evaluate if you would like to work for a company before you get hired. When you find an organization that feels like a fit, you'll be excited to accept the job and can remain excited to go to work everyday. If it's not an ideal fit, say no. It can be difficult to say no to potential work opportunities, but it's best for you and for them to say no before you start a bad working relationship. 

Take charge of your career by finding the right cultural fit at a great company. It can be the difference between trudging to a job you hate or loving your career.

Need help practicing asking these company fit questions? Learn more about our interview coaching services

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