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A candidate's guide to assessing company culture

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​Company culture, the invisible thread weaving together an organisation's values, work environment, and employee interactions, plays a critical role in your overall satisfaction and success. But here's the secret: company culture goes way deeper than free snacks and trendy office perks (though those can be nice!). While ping pong tables and nap pods might grab headlines, they don't tell the whole story. In fact, a company that overemphasises these superficial perks can sometimes be a red flag.

So, what are the real indicators of a healthy company culture? How can you assess the true vibe of an organisation beyond the interview stage? This guide will equip you with the tools to uncover the sometimes hidden aspects of company culture, helping you avoid potential red flags (like extreme work hours or a lack of transparency) and identify a workplace that aligns with your values and aspirations.

The interview as a two-way street

Congratulations! You've landed the interview – a significant step forward in your job search. But before you start prepping your interview outfit, take a moment to consider something equally important: company culture. The interview is your chance to assess the company as much as they are assessing you. Don't be afraid to ask questions specifically about the culture. Here are some examples:

  • "Can you describe a typical workday in this role?"

  • "What are some of the company's core values, and how are they reflected in the daily work environment?"

  • "Can you tell me about some of the team-building activities or social events the company organises?"

  • “How do you and the team celebrate wins?”

Beyond the interview: A multi-faceted approach

A company's culture is woven into the fabric of its everyday operations. So, how do you get a well-rounded picture beyond those initial interview hours? Here are some additional aspects to consider:

1. Company website

A company's website is often a treasure trove of information about its culture. Look beyond the job descriptions – explore their "About Us" section, team pages, and social media feeds (especially LinkedIn and employer branding platforms). What kind of language do they use? What images do they portray? Do they showcase employee events or team-building activities? These elements can reveal a lot about the company's personality and priorities.

2. The job description

The job description itself can be a subtle indicator of culture. Is the language formal or casual? Does it emphasise teamwork and collaboration? Look for keywords that hint at the company's values, such as "innovation," "work-life balance," or "fast-paced environment."

3. Glassdoor reviews

While online reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, they can offer raw insights from current and past employees. Read through reviews on Glassdoor, Google or other relevant platforms to get a sense of employee sentiment and workplace dynamics. Pay attention to both positive and negative reviews to get a balanced perspective.

4. The application process

The application process itself can be a microcosm of the company culture. Was it a smooth and user-friendly experience, or riddled with technical glitches or unclear instructions? Did the communication feel prompt and professional? These details can provide clues about how the company values efficiency and respects candidate time.

5. Social media presence

Follow the company on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. What kind of content do they share? Do they foster a sense of community among employees? Look for interactions between employees and the company on social media – a lively and positive online presence can indicate a strong company culture.

6. Interview follow-up

How a company follows up after the interview can also be revealing. Did you receive a timely response, regardless of the outcome? Did the interviewer take the time to provide feedback, even if they weren't offering you the job? These details demonstrate a company's professionalism and respect for candidates.

7. Leveraging your network

If you have connections within the company, don't hesitate to reach out for informational interviews. Chatting with current employees can provide real-life perspectives into the day-to-day work environment and company culture.

Workplace culture goes beyond free coffee and fruit bowls. It's about the work environment, values, and overall vibe of the organisation. Finding a culture that aligns with your own personality, work style, and values is crucial for your happiness and professional growth. In a company where you feel valued, respected, and supported, you're more likely to be engaged, productive, and ultimately, successful.

If you're looking for a new role, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our current job opportunities.

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