How to Get Real Insight into a Company's Culture

By Brittany Loeffler on June 18, 2020

When you work a full-time job, you tend to spend most of your days in the office and surrounded by your coworkers. You want to be in an environment that is uplifting, motivating, goal-oriented, and compatible with your personality if you’re spending so much time there. This is where company culture comes in.

Working in a great company culture means you’ll have a much better experience at work. We often see people who dread going into the office because of the monotonous work and everyday tasks. Many young people strive to never fall into that kind of routine. So, when job hunting and going for interviews, it’s important to consider what the company culture is like.

These are some ways that you can research and get real insight into a company’s culture to see if it’s somewhere you can thrive and accomplish your career goals.

company culture

via Pixabay

What is Company Culture?

Company culture is the mission that the company has for both its employees and its industry. The company sets goals for what it wants to achieve by either selling a product, offering a service, or growing the company over time. The culture consists of specific attitudes, practices, and processes that make up the environment of the office and the entire company.

When a company is first born, it should have a mission statement that describes what it wants to achieve. Why was it founded in the first place? This mission statement is a brief description of the company’s culture.

Why is it Important?

You wouldn’t want to wake up every day and dread going into the office, right? You want to be excited about going to work and working to accomplish career goals with people you actually enjoy working with in an environment where you feel comfortable and motivated. When a company has a great culture, employees are more likely to succeed in their goals and have an overall better attitude and outlook on their job. Many of them will see it as more than just a job and a paycheck.

When company culture is good, employee morale is high, which means coworkers are enjoyable to work with. You’ll feel motivated and passionate about the work you are doing and know that you are working towards a bigger goal as per the company’s mission statement.

Working in a good environment with these qualities increases employee retention, which means turnover is low and you have a consistent team of people you’re working with. When you have this consistency with coworkers, you’re able to build professional relationships with them, learn how to navigate working with each other, and overall accomplish more because you have created communication and task processes with them.

Talk to Current Employees

When you’re considering working for a company and have an interview scheduled, but want to know more about what it’s actually like to work in the office, it’s a good idea to talk to employees who are currently working there. They can give you first-hand accounts from their experience. You may find that there is a range of opinions when you ask different employees what they think about the company and its culture. This is when you should take everything as objectively as possible.

A great way to connect with current employees is through LinkedIn. Search for the company where you’re interviewing and take a look at their employees. Send them a message and connect with them asking if they would be willing to have a conversation with you. Explain that you’re interested in working at the company, but want to do some research about the company culture.

Make sure to ask them specific questions about the company culture. For example, “What do you look forward to most about your workday?” and “How has the company positively impacted your life?” are more telling questions than a general, “What’s the company culture like?”

Read Company Reviews

Just like how you would read reviews of a hotel before booking a stay there, you should read reviews of a company before going to work there. Think about it, you’re going to spend a lot more time in the office than you would on vacation at a hotel. So, make sure you do your research and read as many reviews as you can.

Glassdoor is a great website for reading anonymous reviews from both current and former employees of certain companies. It offers information about salaries, interview processes, and an overall rating of how employees reviewed the company.

Now, as with anything on the Internet that can be reviewed, there are bound to be some pretty ridiculous reviews out there. Take everything with a grain of salt because every employee is different and had different experiences. These reviews will give you some insight into the company culture, though.

company culture

via Pixabay

Check Social Media

Reading reviews can feel so formal and staged sometimes. A great way to get true insight into a company’s culture is by checking social media. What are employees and customers saying about the company on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? Search hashtags, locations, and keywords. People on social media tend to be more conversational and honest about their thoughts than if they were to write a review of a company on another platform.

You can also see if people have similar experiences based on the comments on a post. If you see that a lot of the posts surrounding the company are negative, you may want to think twice about working there. You want to be an employee of a company with a great reputation – somewhere you will be proud to work.

Read the News

To see what a company has been doing recently, check the news. Depending on the company, there may be a lot of news or a few local articles over the last couple of years. Pay close attention to dates, the content, and any comments that the news articles have.

Some things you might find out when reading the news about a company is any community work they do, profits and quarterly goals, rebranding, and more. Again, think about how this news affects you and your perception of the company. Are they painted in a good, bad, or neutral light from these news stories? Consider how these news stories make you feel and sway your opinion of the company from an outsider’s perspective.

Take a Tour of the Office

When you have your interview, ask if your interviewer is willing to give you a tour of the office. This will help you actually feel the company culture. You can witness employees working, how they interact with one another, and feel the genuine atmosphere of the office. Many times when you go for an interview, you’ll simply see a lobby and the conference room. You won’t get to see other employees actually hard at work.

While on an office tour, take in everything you can! Listen to conversations that employees are having both each other and on the phone. Check whiteboards and bulletins for flyers, announcements, and goal tracking. Pay attention to all of the little details, including how employees interact with one another. Do they say hello to you when they walk by?

You may have an idea of what the company culture is like from online reading and conversations with people, but actually experiencing it is much different.

company culture

Infographic by Brittany Loeffler

Questions to Ask During Your Interview

Another great way to learn more about the company’s culture is by asking your interviewer questions. A great time to do this is towards the very end of the interview after you have asked questions about the role itself. It shows that you have a genuine interest in the company and put importance on the bigger picture.

What activities or extracurriculars does the company offer employees? 

A good company will host events, workshops, and entertaining occasions for its employees. This improves team building, overall morale, and gives employees a reason to connect with each other and form relationships. It also proves that the company values its employees and their happiness and does not just see them as workers, but as real people.

Is there a dress code? 

Depending on the type of business and industry you’re looking for, the company may have a relaxed dress code or a formal business dress code. The dress code can say a lot about the company culture. If casual clothing is okay, then chances are that the company is more laid back and allows their employees to have more freedom as to how they get their work done. A company that requires professional business attire may be more strict with processes and appearances.

How does the company recognize achievements? 

Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work, especially when they have accomplished a goal they’ve been working towards for a while. A company with a great culture will make sure to recognize their employees’ efforts and achievements. This could be in the form of a newsletter shoutout, prize, or whatever the company thinks is fitting.

Does the company have a volunteer initiative? 

If serving and helping your community is important to you, then you will probably appreciate a company who also takes initiative in improving its community. They may offer volunteer opportunities, host fundraisers, and support a specific charity. When they prove that they give back and care about the community, chances are high that they care about their employees too.

What are the company’s short and long term goals? 

Working at a company that is always focused on growing and achieving goals will ensure that you stay motivated and never stuck. You will always have something that you are working towards and leadership to follow and learn from while trying to reach these goals.

Continuing Education and Employee Training Programs

A company that invests in its employees is one that cares about their advancement. Do some research or ask someone at the company you’re considering working if they offer programs like this. Many companies will offer to pay for a Master’s Degree while others will hold workshops and training events for its employees.

When a company shows and interest in its employees bettering themselves, it means they care and take an interest in their employees. They are providing tools to their employees to help them advance in their careers, learn new skills, and become better employees in the industry overall. You want to work for a company that prioritizes the needs of its employees.

Red Flags to Look for in a Company’s Culture

Unfortunately, not all companies have a great culture. There is such a thing as a toxic company culture that can make employees feel miserable, overwhelmed, and unappreciated. These are some of the red flags to look for when gaining insight into a company’s culture.

Leaders Don’t Lead by Example

If you hear or notice that the managers, supervisors, and executives are always in their offices and don’t interact with their employees, they may be part of a toxic hierarchy. A leader must be involved with his team and lead by example.

The Culture is Competitive

When you see employees pitted against each other to compete for making the most sales or finishing a project on time, this could be a red flag to a toxic culture. While competition does motivate some people, it can cause resentment and pressure on others.

Employees Are Unappreciated

If you feel that the employees are not seen as humans and leaders show no empathy towards them, this is not a good sign. There are some companies who do not value their employees and simply see them as a cog in the money-making machine.

There is No Mission Statement 

If you ask someone to state the company’s values and mission and they can’t, this is a red flag. The company should have a clear vision for where they want to go and how they want to impact the world.

Consider Company Culture

When you are looking for a new job, consider what the company culture is like. When you spend so much time in an office, you want it to be an enjoyable experience! If you follow these tips, you can learn a lot and get some great insight as to what the company’s culture is really like.

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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