4 Ways to Evaluate Fit and Company Culture

Submitted on October 12, 2020
Ryan Sermon

From the Graduate Center Office of Career Support

By Ryan Sermon

 

When it comes to job satisfaction, one of the most important aspects, in addition to salary, involves “organizational culture” and “fit.” Imagine: you’re interested in two different employers. You start to talk with others in your network and notice stark differences between the two cultures. What are you to do next?! This is a dilemma that I hear from graduate students across all disciplines. The conversations we have about this subject focus on culture, preferences, values, and perspectives. Here are 4 steps you can take to evaluate whether your next job opportunity aligns with your values and long-term career goals.  

 

INTROSPECTION

 

By now you probably have a strong concept of the technical and fundamental skills you can contribute to any organization on day one in your new role. Take a moment now to reflect on what skills you might possess that your potential employers are looking for:  

 

Fundamental Skills

Technical Skills

Critical thinking

Statistical: SAS, R, SPSS, Atlas, GIS,

Adaptability

Coding: Python, C++, Java, Ruby

Communication

Teaching: Curriculum Design, LMS, Evaluation

Time Management

Social Media: SEO, KPI/KPM, Conversion Rate

Collaboration

Writing: Wordpress, technical writing, content creation

 

With this framework as a starting point, continue the introspective process by examining your work preferences and workplace values. Work preferences include a range of factors such as geographical location, working conditions, and organizational size. Identifying workplace values reveals the employment conditions that matter most to you. Here are some examples to help you reflect on your work preferences and workplace values:

 

Work Preferences

Workplace Values

  • I enjoy working with:
    • Data (information, ideas, words, numbers)
    • People
    • Things (machines, equipment, animals)

 

  • I want to work for an organization with:
    • Fewer than 100 employees
    • 100 – 500 employees
    • 500 or more employees

 

  • I would like to work in a _________ setting:
    • Large city
    • Medium sized city
    • Town or suburban area
    • Small town or rural area
  • Rate the following for yourself on a scale from 1 – 4, with

1 indicating not important and

4 indicating very important

__ Decision making

__ Competition

__ Recognition

__ Salary

__ Benefits

__ Status / Prestige

__ Security

 

Review your ratings and reflect on which values you enthusiastically connect with. 

 

 

Armed with a clear understanding of your skills, preferences, and values, you can now really begin to evaluate employers and opportunities.

 

RESEARCH

 

Another step you can take to evaluate the culture or fit of an organization is to research companies that intentionally create inclusive and supportive environments for the diverse workforce they employ. You can do this by taking a look at any of these websites that publish a list of companies that promote this emphasis:

 

  1. Forbes – 500 Best Employers for Diversity
  2. Monster’s – Best Companies for LGBTQ Workers
  3. Employer Brand Index – Tech Companies
  4. Glassdoor – List of Top Companies for Diversity & Inclusion.

 

You can also use the Glassdoor website to read anonymous and confidential reviews of a particular company written by previous and current employees. Lastly, if there is a company you’re interested in, go directly to their website and see what data you can collect about their focus on fostering an inclusive environment. By taking this vital step you’ll be able to identify which employers will support you in bringing your whole self to work.

 

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING

 

If you want firsthand, relevant information that addresses the realities of working for a particular company, you should set up an informational interview. Talking with a professional who is doing the type of work you might want to do provides you with tips and insider knowledge about the company.  Here are some questions you might think about asking during your 30-minute informational interview:

 

  1. What gets you excited about coming to work?
  2. How does your manager best support you?
  3. Who within your company inspires you and why?
  4. Which of your company’s core values do you most/least identify with?
  5. Why did you choose to apply here?
  6. Where/when/how do you do your best work?

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

 

Phenomenal: you’ve made it to the interview stage! Now how do you confirm the employer’s “fit”? Keep in mind that you, too, will be assessed on your “fit” within the organization, which might be determined by your answers to any of the following questions:

    1. What makes you a great team player?
    2. If you had to choose between a work environment that was always in chaos versus one where nothing ever changed, which would you choose?
    3. How do you handle stressful situations?

 

Towards the end of the interview, applicants are often asked if they have any questions.  This is your opportunity to learn more about culture and fit by asking your interviewer the following questions:

    1. What gets you excited about coming to work?
    2. How do you see your company’s values demonstrated in the work you do?
    3. What types of trainings on diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence does the company offer?

 

In conclusion, assessing fit within an organization is an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of the job search process. Fit really is an important piece of the puzzle in determining career happiness and success. Working through the steps outlined here helps ensure you find an employer that will fit your needs.

 

ADDITIONAL READINGS