About Our Principal
We were at the Stanford at the same time, although two graduating class years apart. I just happened to read your very thoughtful -- and right-on-the-money -- letter in the January/February Issue of Stanford magazine. I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn."
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Assessing Company Culture
From Career Tips, 2017 Volume 6, June"Bruce" called me up partway into his first day on the job: "I have to quit."
What was the problem?
Bruce was a superb relationship-builder. The role was accounts manager. Bruce would be responsible for maintaining and building large accounts. Sounds like a perfect fit, right?
Bruce had a friend at the company. In his excitement about being offered a job (and ending his search), he failed to dig into the detailed expectations of the job and how the company operated - their culture. He made assumptions based on the job title.
As a result, he found himself stuck in a cubicle staring at a computer screen all day (he was a bit of a technophobe) working on account financials. There was to be very little direct people contact with the accounts - a woeful mismatch to his talents and passions.
A deep discussion of the expectations of the job could have quickly revealed the mismatch. But how do you explore company culture to establish a fit?
Many people use the glassdoor website or similar sites to look at the reviews people have posted. This can be a great first step, especially for larger or more well-known companies with a lot of reviews.
When there are few reviews, though, you need to take what you read with a huge grain of salt. There is a tendency for people with an axe to grind to be more likely to post something, and to be more detailed in their reviews. Thus you should generally only take what you read there as a starting point, giving you guidance as to areas to investigate further.
You can get good insights into the culture by talking to people at the company. But unless you already have networking contacts there, how do you get to talk to anyone in the first place, other than when you are on the interview? And when it's an interview setting, how do you know you are getting the straight scoop? Won't they feel constrained not to say negative things about the place where they work?
Here's an idea: Do a search on LinkedIn for people who used to work at your target.
This has two primary advantages:
So here are some questions you could ask to get a better look at the culture, and how it would affect you on the job:
Finally, a friend who ran a staffing agency used to advocate that you visit the company a few times outside of the interview:
Drop me a line with your own additions to how to evaluate company culture, at John@JHACareers.com.