You read the job description and get so excited. It is exactly what you want in your next career step. You talk with the recruiter and everything seems aligned. You prepare for the interview, you ask good questions and you get good answers, you think you got this nailed. It is as good as it seems, then you start and, a month later, you realize that it isn’t what you thought it was and you feel trapped.
Related: 3 Sneaky Ways To Research A Company
You can’t quit after a few months because you don’t want to be a job hopper. You regret your decision and wish you had done things differently. So, how do you know what it’s really like to work somewhere? Here are some ideas to help you identify the real company culture before you accept a position.
1. Ask a LOT of questions
I’ve said it before and I will say it again; ask a lot of questions! Ask scenario-based questions about career paths and culture and then you need to be sure that the interviewer can back it up. Ask them to tell you stories about top performers at the company and why the company considers them a top performer. Ask about what characteristics are rewarded and revered in the company. But be sure you ask!
2. Listen to the answers & probe
Asking is simply the first part of the equation, because then you need to listen and trust your gut. Does the answer seem genuine? Do they have no stories to back up their claims? Do they seem like authentic stories? And finally, do you think these answers and stories are aligned with what you want? If the answer is maybe, probe deeper with the interviewer. If you don’t get anywhere after you attempt to probe a bit, and it remains a maybe… then it’s a no. Maybe is a “no” because you cannot afford maybe.
3. Study current and former employees
Take some time on LinkedIn. Study the company page and the people who are working for the company. Are they frequently promoted? Do they demonstrate a career path? DO they quit and come back? This can tell you a lot about the company culture and can also inform the awesome questions you have to ask.
4. Connect with current employees
Use your network to talk with people who already work there. Ask them the good, the bad and the ugly. These conversations can help you shape an understanding of the company culture from an insider’s point of view. Ask them questions about what’s important to you when you join a new company.
5. Connect with former employees
Similar to the idea above, talking to former employees is equally important. These people can tell you why they left and if they would ever consider going back. The information you learn from former employees should also inform your questions. Keep in mind, companies do change and the reason this person left may no longer be an issue. So, be sure that you are mindful of that as well.
6. Read reviews, but don’t ONLY read reviews
Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are awesome to get some insights, but I always caution that these sites can sometimes cloud your point of view. Keep in mind; people who write anonymous reviews of things are often either horribly disgruntled or shilling. If you want to read reviews, read the ones that are middle of the road. Don’t read 5-stars and 1-star. Read 3-star reviews and then either ask your network to validate or just take it with a grain of salt.
7. Follow them on social to see how they respond
Social media has forced brands to more openly communicate with candidates and customers. Some companies do an amazing job of telling you about the culture on their social media channels. Others don’t. The companies who do not share a lot about their culture, you should study how do they treat their candidates and customers. You can use this information to see what it might be like at a company, and to see what is important to the brand before you join it.
Changing jobs is a big decision. Figuring out your fit is so important so that you don’t end up filled with dread and regret or the dreaded “job hopper” label. Carefully considering a company’s culture is critical in your career because getting it wrong is too costly.
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