3 Ways Jobseekers Can Gauge Company Culture

In a recent column for Harvard Business Review, columnist Bill Barnett argues that jobseekers should suss out company culture before they accept a position with a company. Doing so ensures that the job you take enriches your career and catalyzes your professional development; in addition, it lessens the chances that you burn out or quit out of disappointment or disillusionment.

Barnett cites three questions all jobseekers should consider when researching an organization and going through the interview process:

  1. What should I learn?
  2. How should I learn?
  3. When should I learn?

To answer the first question, you'll need to find out how the organization operates on a logistical level as well as a philosophical one. What makes the company proud? How are performance, teamwork and communication prioritized? There are no right answers here, but ideally, what you discover will mesh well with your own goals and ethos.

The second question might require you to chat with customers, employees, ex-employees, suppliers or partners to see how others perceive the company's culture. The third question is a bit more nebulous: is company culture appropriate to discuss during the interview stage? Here's what Barnett has to say about it:

The culture topic is certainly not off-base, and it is necessary to know for future growth in the company. Hiring managers should expect it. Whether it's in interviews or after you have an offer, you'll do best if your questions show you're learning rapidly about the organization, taking the employer's perspective, and beginning to figure out how to succeed there. Culture questions can cast you in a positive light.

Jobseekers, has company culture played a role in the businesses to which you apply?

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