Making a cultural match has become one of the most important factors for millennials when it comes to the job hunt. That being said, how do you know what corporate culture is right for you? To take it one step further, how do you even begin to understand the culture of a company before you’ve started to work there?
First let’s start with some basic questions to ask yourself. Before you can decide on what culture you want, you need to understand what work environments you thrive in. Our friends at The Muse suggest asking yourself “What Motivates Me?” This may seem like an obvious question, but have you ever really thought about the answer before? Think about a time when you were extremely productive, was there anything special about the situation? Were you working as part of a group or solo? Did you have a quick deadline or a generous amount of time? All of these questions will help you find an optimal work environment.
Being productive is just one half of the equation. There’s no point in churning out work if you are miserable. The next question to ask yourself is, “What makes me happy?” Again, this is a general question that you will need to break down in order to fully understand which work environment best suits you. The Muse recommends doing some backward thinking with this question. For example, are you a morning person? Do you want a lax workplace? Maybe you are happier in a more structured environment. All of these things will be central to finding out where your sweet spot is.
Now that you have the answers to these questions you may be thinking “Ok I know what I want but how do I figure out if a company is the right fit for me?” A really quick and painless way to get an idea of a company’s culture is to check out their website. This will usually be able to tell you the company size and their business style. Be sure to read the “About” section on the webpage to get an idea of the company history and their goals for the future-you may also find a mission statement that explains company ideals.
Another indicator is location. When you go for your interview take time to walk around and note the surrounding areas. Also pay attention to the office inside. Is it light and airy? Are the desks in a group or are they individually placed? Also note the mood and atmosphere when you are interviewing. Are people happy and chatting? Is it silent with only the sound of keyboards clicking? This is obviously only a brief glimpse into what the day to day is like, and of course there are exceptions, but it will give you some idea.
Finally, when you go in for the interview, remember that first impressions are important not only for the interviewer but also for you as the interviewee. If the person interviewing you is going to be your direct manager, pay close attention, you may be able to glean some insight into their management style. Note how you are greeted, the style of your interview, is it formal or more relaxed and friendly? Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions about the culture in the office, what your typical day will be or if you will be part of a team. Use these tips to find the ideal environment for your happiness and your productivity. Think about your goals and your personality and make sure you think about whether you will align with the company. Remember, you need to make sure that you’re in the right environment for you to grow both personally and professionally. Happy culture hunting!