9 Ways to Research Company Culture Before You Apply

research company cultureWhat’s one of the top factors hiring managers give when rejecting candidates? And one of the top reasons employees give for quitting? Not the right “cultural fit.” But what exactly does cultural fit mean? And, long before a rejection occurs or we join a company where we won’t be a fit, how do you research company culture?

Company culture is the personality of the company.

It can be difficult to describe an organization’s personality. You can also think of company culture as meaning “how things get done.” The problem is, we don’t yet have any universal terminology or definitions to describe workplace culture. That, in many cases,  makes it difficult for people to describe or even define the culture at any one organization.

However, you don’t have to wait until you apply to research company culture.

In fact, to help identify those companies where you might be a good fit, you can begin evaluating company culture as you start researching target companies. Bonus: Armed with basic research, you will find it easier to ask specific questions about the components of culture during the job interview.

Here are nine ways you can start researching company culture, right now…

1. Employee Review Sites

Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and CareerBliss all provide company reviews. These sites are free to use, so invest time evaluating data from all of them. Don’t be concerned about a single negative review. Instead, be on the lookout for repeated themes of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

2. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Company Pages

Not all companies are active or engaged on social media. But it is worth looking for company pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If a company is active on one or more of these social media platforms, look through the company’s posts and how they respond to questions or comments. Is the tone friendly, professional, honest, witty, professional or not responsive at all? How fast does the company respond to questions? If they are active, I highly recommend you attempt to engage by posting a question or comment.

3. Online Customer Reviews

Whether it’s a product page on the company’s website or Amazon, read customer reviews. See what customers are saying in the reviews. Are they satisfied? What complaints do they have? How has the company publicly addressed complaints? Another source of reviews is Yelp. Though we mostly know it for restaurant reviews, Yelp also has business reviews.

4. Quora

Known as a site for asking and answering questions, Quora may have the answer to “what is it like to work at X company?” You may not be comfortable posting a question yourself, but you can search the site to see if anyone else has asked your question before and read the responses instead. (In order to see all the responses, you will need to register, but there is no cost.)

5. Company LinkedIn Pages

Company pages on LinkedIn can feature lots of data. You’ll find a listing of all employees who work there and who you are connected with. Some companies include employee career paths and videos. Not every organization has completed all the information on their page but do take a look to see what you discover.

6. Ask Everyone You Know

A company’s work culture, good or bad, spreads outside the four walls of the building. Ask everyone you know what they know about the company and what it’s like to work there. If the company has a bad reputation, you want to know this information before you accept the offer, not after.

7. News About The Company

Read local and national news about the company. (Check out these tools to help you uncover company news.) Look for news about changes to the organization’s structure and leadership as it has a direct impact on the culture, for example, news of a recent merger, downsizing or new leadership.

If the company recently merged, be sure to evaluate the reputation of the company it merged with. You should also use your network and LinkedIn to find employees you can talk to about how the merger has impacted the organization and culture.

8. Customer, Vendor, and Partner Reviews

Customers’ testimonials or rave reviews from partners may be listed on the company website. Granted, a company will likely only post positive reviews. But you can search the internet for “negative reviews about X company” and see what shows up.

If you have worked in the industry before, then you may already have contacts you can reach out to. Your questions might probe what it’s like doing business with the company, how quickly they respond to issues and ask if there are any red flags you should be aware of.

9. Check the Company Website

Ok, this isn’t very tricky, but you may notice that organizations have started to invest more time, money and effort in telling their story to attract the right potential candidates. The career or employment page may feature employees or provide a summary of perks and benefits. Be sure to review the website to see the organization’s mission and philanthropic support. Finally, don’t forget to review the job postings. Sometimes the answers to your workplace culture questions are listed right there.

One Last Note:

Keep in mind, people have different values and expectations of a job. Use the information to ask further questions during your research and job interview.

There is no right or wrong culture, just a culture right for you.

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Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!

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