How to Get a Feel for the Company Culture During Your Recruitment Process

3 minutes

In the vast world of employment opportunities, companies are like individuals, each with it...

In the vast world of employment opportunities, companies are like individuals, each with its own unique culture and set of values. When searching for your ideal role, it is crucial to ensure that the company's culture and values align with your own. After all, you're not just looking for a job; you're seeking an environment that will inspire and engage you on a daily basis.

Company culture encompasses the personality, beliefs, traditions, and behaviours that are created and shared by both the organisation and its employees. It goes beyond superficial perks like a fun office space with free snacks. Instead, it revolves around the attitudes of the workforce and the environment they foster.

A positive company culture should captivate, excite, and engage you. It should enhance your day-to-day experience at work, making it more fulfilling and enjoyable. However, fully grasping a company's culture before you start working there can be challenging. It requires careful observation, inquiry, and research. Here are some key strategies to look out for during the interview process to gain a deeper understanding of a company's culture:


Interview your prospective colleagues and dive deep

During the interview process you should have the opportunity to ask your interviewers some questions – so ask away and if you don’t, ask anyway! This is your time to quiz the interviewer on their role in the organisation. Ask about their roles within the organisation, the projects they are currently working on, and how they find their roles and work. Engage them in conversations about their experiences and whether they genuinely enjoy working there. Don't be afraid to inquire about any concerns or reservations you may have. Whatever you deem important to you make sure you ask.


Ask for an office tour or trial day in the office 

While not all companies may offer this option, if it's available, seize the opportunity to get a first-hand experience of the company's culture. It could be a trial day where you spend a day in the office or simply an office tour. Usually, an office tour will be done with a TA or prospective colleague, so like above, use this time to chat with them on an informal basis, and ask what they like or don’t like, what they appreciate most about the company, and any challenges they face.

Look out for how people are working, is there a positive ‘buzz’ in the office? Do people look like they are rushed off their feet which might imply that they are stretched and overworked. Or on the other hand, do people look too relaxed and not working as this could imply that the culture is too relaxed for you and not got the drive you could potentially looking for. Do prospective colleagues reach out to you and offer a smile? Most importantly, aim to establish if you can see yourself working in the environment and the pace.

Use review platforms and social media

In the digital age, it's easier than ever to gather information about companies through review platforms and social media channels.

It’s always important to review external, non-bias-related reviews on companies before you start. It could be harder for smaller companies because there will be less information readily available on them but for medium to larger companies external review platforms because current and ex-employees can review the business anonymously, making them a great way for you to learn more about the culture.

The most common platform is Glassdoor, but there are so many others and some sector-specific, so have a search around before you accept your role and see what current, but more importantly ex-employees are saying about the company! It’s important to remain objective doing this because it might not always be a reflection on the company so check multiple reviews. If more are negative, don’t ignore this, however; remember that there will always be a few unhappy customers so expect this in the reviews, but this doesn’t mean that you would have a negative experience there!

Additionally, explore the company's social media presence to gain insights into their values, initiatives, and overall brand image. Pay attention to how they communicate with employees and the public, as this can reflect their culture and priorities.

Just remember that although you are the interviewee, your prospective company and colleagues are your interviewees too, so use them to help you establish the culture and if the company is the right fit for you.

Trust your instincts

While research and observations are important, ultimately, trust your instincts. Your gut feeling and intuition play a significant role in determining whether a company's culture is the right fit for you. Pay attention to your initial impressions during the recruitment process. How do you feel when interacting with the interviewers and prospective colleagues? Do you feel a sense of connection and alignment with their values and attitudes? Trusting your instincts can guide you in making a decision that aligns with your personal and professional goals.

© Warman O'Brien 2023
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