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Friday Forum – How Can I Learn About a Company’s Culture?

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 Happy Friday and welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday we take a question submitted by one of our users and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Melanie asks:

“I just started my job search and have been applying to positions that are posted online.  I am really trying to find an organization that not only provides future growth potential, but also has core values and a good culture.  In my opinion, I think that it can be hard to get a true feel for an organization when you only spend a few hours there during an interview.  How can I find out this information about a potential employer?  Is Glassdoor a reputable source for this information?”

This is a great question, because it crosses everyone’s mind when they are looking for a new job.  I think that it is a great idea to research the work environment of a potential employer, as it will have a direct effect on your career.  If you fit their culture, chances are that you will be more successful and stay with that organization much longer.  Being in the recruiting industry, I have seen all levels of candidates, including high-level professionals, accept positions without doing proper research on an organization’s culture and quit within a week.  It happens more often then you think!

So what can you do?  We have broken down ways to dissect a potential employer’s culture below.


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Doing your homework on a potential employer is a no brainer, but if you want to understand their culture from the outside, you need to dig in.  Before the internet came along, it was difficult to obtain insight on an organization unless you knew someone who worked there.  Lucky for us, we have constant access to a wealth of information with just a few clicks of a mouse!

Social Media

Social media is a great place to start.  Key up the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts.  Go through their pictures, videos, and posts to try and get a feel for what is important to them.  You can also check followers and hashtags to see what people are saying about the organization.

Company Website

The company website is another good resource to key up.  Many companies will list their mission or values right on their site.  They may also provide other helpful information that can give you a look inside the company.  Some organizations may have an employment section that gives you a feel of what it is like to work there.  They may also list charities and foundations they support, or events that they have.


Linkedin is such a great resource when it comes to anything job related.  First off, type in the company name in the search bar to pull up the company’s page.  This page has everything you need to know, including a summary of the company, employee count, company breakdown by function, information on recent hires, job openings and more.  It also tells you if you are connected to anyone that currently works there.  This is huge, because if you have a contact that currently works for the organization, you can send them a note to get an honest answer on the culture.  If you are not connected to anyone at the company, you can still view the employees that work there.  I’d suggest connecting with a few people that work in the department of your potential role.  You can even include a small note with your connection request to see if they would recommend working there.


Glassdoor is another well known site that a lot of candidates visit when it comes to obtaining information on potential employers.  If you are not familiar with Glassdoor, they are a user-driven site that provides company reviews and information on salaries, jobs, benefits, etc.  This is a good place to obtain insight from current and past employees.  They can list the pros and cons of the organization, how long they have been working there, and if they recommend it.  It is important to be careful, since it is a user-driven site.  If employees were fired for not doing their job, they could easily go the site and purposefully bash the company, so be sure to keep that in mind.  Either way, this is another good resource.

Ask Around

Finally, its always good to ask around.  Talk to friends and family and see if they have heard anything about the company, or if they know anyone who works there.  The best insight is going to come from someone who is currently working there.  If you can find a family member or close friend, they will give you an honest answer.

Get There Early

We recommend getting to your interview around 15 minutes early.  If you missed our post on how early you should arrive be sure to check it out!  By getting there early, it will give you time to get checked in, and it will also give you the opportunity to watch and listen.  Do employees have a smile on their face and seem like they are happy to be there?  How do they interact with each other?  Is the receptionist nice?  If you see someone, say hello.  How do they respond?

While your decision to work at a company shouldn’t be solely based on what you see and hear, it is definitely a good indicator.  It can give you a feel for dress code, how employees interact with each other, and how strict the company is.  It is good to ask yourself how you feel when you are there, and if you could see yourself fitting in.

Another good idea is to see if you can take a tour of the facility.  Some hiring managers may offer this up, but if not, you can always ask. If it isn’t offered, I’d suggest waiting until the final interview, or if you feel like you are close to an offer, to ask. This is another great opportunity to take in the surroundings and see how you feel.  It should shed some good insight on work environment and employee interaction.

Ask Questions

Don’t forget that when you are meeting with a potential employer, you should be interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you!  Bring a list of questions, and ask for examples.

Some good questions to ask could be:

  • What is the company’s overall mission/values?
  • Can you give me an example of someone who has grown with the company in their time here?
  • Is this more of an individual, or team-based environment?

Understanding and preparing for cultural interview questions a company may ask you is important as well.  Our sister site, The Resilient Recruiter, discusses cultural interview questions to ask candidates.  You may want to head over and take a look at some of those here.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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