before you join: is the culture right?

12/07/2009

by anne lueneburger

Ever had this happen to you?

Joking aside… Interviewing for a job goes both ways: the company wants to be sure that your qualifications and persona fit the role and the overall organizational culture.  But – more importantly – as part of your search for that perfect role, it is crucial that you assess whether the company’s culture is aligned with your personal values and your work style. Not getting the cultural fit right risks suffering organ rejection!

Here are five powerful questions you should ask:

1: Which attributes do you most value about your organization?

2: In your company, what is really important?

3: What type of person tends to get promoted?

4: What type of behavior is rewarded?

5: What is true of people that joined your firm but ultimately didn’t fit in?

In addition to listening to what the organization responds to your questions – be observant…  Start off by looking at the parking lot: how are spots assigned, is it hierarchical or random? What is the reception area like? Is there a dress code? How do people communicate with each other? Does the interview process mirror what you are being told? How are you being treated? Who is involved in the decision-making process?

And be diligent: research outside of the organization, Google the company, read news, publications. Speak with former employees. Get the inside scoop: see if friends or previous associates work or know anyone who works in the organization and are willing to share their insights.

If the answers that come from your investigation don’t align with your values, think again.  Some people love working at Goldman Sachs, others at The World Bank; you may like the daily turbulence of a fast-moving start-up or value the reliability of a multinational Fortune 50 company.  Either way, the ‘best job’ is still part of the general organizational fabric – and if this doesn’t sit right then it could be time for a rethink…

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