So, Are These People Crazy or Not? Sussing Out Corporate Culture

One of the challenges of job-hunting (and, hopefully, landing) is trying to figure out if your future colleagues and company executives are going to be great to work with, or if you’re instead about to land in yet another toxic workplace populated with evil co-workers and sociopath bosses.
So it would be nice if there were some way to get at least a bit of an inside scoop on the corporate culture before you make the leap and become part of it. Happily, there are, in fact, a number of ways to do this. For example, you could check out the company on one of the anonymous review sites that have current and former employees evaluate the employer in question. (Needless to say, always keep in mind that the individual writing the review may have formerly been one of those evil co-workers, so be prepared to filter any information you read.)
The best sites for this approach are CareerBliss.com, CareerLeak.com, and GlassDoor.com. Another way is to check with your personal and LinkedIn network to see if you or any of your connections have contacts at the target company with whom you can do an informational interview. You’ll need to frame your questions very carefully and diplomatically, so that the person you’re interviewing doesn’t feel awkward discussing the company with you. Some potential questions might include:
  • What is your job (and responsibilities) at [company] and how long have you been doing that?
  • What do you enjoy most about working at [company]?
  • What type of soft skills are most highly valued at [company]? (If the answer is “obedience,” run very, very quickly.)
  • Would you say that [company] looks for innovative thinking among its employees?
  • How important is teamwork and collaboration at [company]?
  • Does [company] usually promote from within?
  • Does [company] tend to invest in its employees through training and professional development support?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate [company] as a place to grow professionally?
You can also check on LinkedIn for former employees of the company, who may be more comfortable talking frankly about the pros and cons of their previous work environment. Keep in mind as you do your research that especially in large companies, the “corporate culture” may vary from department to department. Often people will hate or love their jobs because of their specific managers, rather than because of the company as a whole. So as you get feedback from individuals about their insights about a given organization, try to determine how much of their responses are based on their boss versus the company.
Also keep in mind, however, that a company that allows a toxic manager to stay in place is, by default, making a statement about how much – or little – it values its employees’ well-being.
About the Author: Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.

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