How to Investigate an Organization’s Culture

Six Steps to Take Before Accepting a Job.

You’ve read the website and have applied for what you think is your dream job. You believe in the organization and its mission. You cannot wait to start.

Stop! Before going further, check your emotions at the door and evaluate if the culture of the organization is a fit with your priorities. Here are six steps for determining the fit between your goals and the culture of your dream job.

Step 1: Don’t confuse mission with culture -As a motivated professional, you have chosen to follow a career path that aligns with your interests, skills, and values. You’re attracted to certain employers because of their mission and your desire to help bring it forward. It’s important for any job seeker to understand that the mission of the organization does not necessarily represent its internal culture. Recognizing this will enable you to do your homework and ask the right questions.

Step 2: Go beyond the website -By design, organization websites are designed to highlight their ideals and goals. They can hint at the culture of the organization, or at least the culture it aspires to. Know, however, that a website is one-dimensional and can’t tell the whole story of the people dynamics inside it.

Step 3: Research your desired employer — Find current or past employees of the organization you have identified as a potential fit with your goals. By using LinkedIn, search for individuals familiar with the organization who can tell you what their experience is like or was when they worked there. Similarly, networking with people in professional associations can also help you learn about the culture of an organization. Ask them why they chose to work there, what they enjoy as well as the challenges they face. Identifying former colleagues or alumni who share your interests and passion will make it easier for you to connect.

Step 4: Consider the employer’s hiring proces s — Pay attention to who calls you to schedule a job interview and to how that person treats you on the phone. Is the person positive and clear about the steps in the hiring process or do they seem stressed and overworked? Job candidates need to be able to discern whether the selection process is meaningful and reflects an organization that cares about whom they hire or one that doesn’t have its act together.

Step 5: Keep your eyes and ears open -The day of the onsite interview, pay attention to how employees interact with each other. Do they seem engaged and happy? Or, are they heads down in their own world? How are you greeted when you arrive?

Step 6: Ask open-ended questions -Ask the interviewers open-ended questions that will help shed insight into the ethos of their employer. Some of these questions could include -

  • Who are the heroes at your company and why?
  • What characteristics do the people who are most respected have in common?
  • How would you describe the promising people you hired, but who failed or left?
  • As I’m considering if I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and the flame-outs?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate for this role?

In short, uncovering the fit of an organization with your values and priorities can be critical to ensuring that the role you accept will be a win-win for both parties if you take the time to ask the right questions.

If you liked these suggestions, be sure to download my free ebook, 25 Tips for Making a Successful Career Transition.

Career Management Coach/ Personal Branding Strategist/ Career Transition Consultant/ Blogger

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on March 29, 2017.