Deciding whether or not a company is the right cultural fit for you is just as important as acing the interview.

It's entirely possible to love what you do, yet not enjoy your job.

Even if your position allows you to highlight your most impressive skills and do the type of work that you enjoy most, you might find the day-to-day environment within your office to be exhausting, or worse yet, demoralizing. Believe it or not, nearly two-thirds of Americans are unhappy at their current jobs. You don't want to join that crowd.

Discovering your cultural fit is not about “good” or “bad” cultures. The perfect culture for one person may be another's complete nightmare. Yet, the importance of finding that fit is essential to career satisfaction. Here are a few interview tips to help you discover your perfect cultural fit before accepting the job.

What is company culture?

According to Investopedia, company culture (or corporate culture) is the “beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact.” Essentially, company culture is everything about how a company operates; from its mission statement to the little perks, like free snacks.

Why does it matter? If you find yourself in a job with a company culture that doesn't work with your personality, it could end up being a daily struggle. That means your work will suffer and your relationship with your employers will too.

Research before you interview

Do you Google a person before your first date? It's okay; you can admit it. It's natural to be curious and to do a little research to see if any red flags pop up.

Why wouldn't you do that for a company that wants to interview you?

It's not just about finding great information to have for those tricky interview questions. There are great resources out there like Glassdoor, Career Bliss, and Vault that can give you a snapshot of a company's culture. The best part? Most of the information comes from the people who work there and have first-hand knowledge.

What are people saying? Do they rave about the autonomy they have at work, or do they comment on the teamwork environment? Again, you're not necessarily looking for “good” or “bad” here. While some people thrive in a small company where management hangs out and has drinks with the staff at their weekly karaoke happy hour, you may be better suited to a more highly structured corporate environment.

Don't forget to look at the “About Us” page on the company website. This page should give you an idea of their mission and what they stand for. Are they trying to become the biggest and baddest player on the block, or are they happy being smaller, but with a strong imprint on their local community?

Like it or not, one of the keys to finding the right company culture fit is to admit to yourself just how money-driven you are. If you are looking to develop a career with a fast, upward trajectory with impressive salaries and benefits, you might do well in a larger corporation. Smaller companies frequently can't compete when it comes to salaries, but may have a number of other perks that facilitate a fun and creative environment.

Interview them as they interview you

Far too often people fall into the mentality of “they write the checks, so whatever they want goes.” Trying to make yourself fit into a culture that isn't right for you is not beneficial for anyone involved. Treat your job hunt more like dating. You don't want to find someone just to have someone, you want to find the perfect match and to be that perfect match for them.

Never is this concept more applicable than during your interview. It's not just about you trying to get the job, it's about you and the interviewer trying to discover if you are the right fit for the job.

How do you do that? You can't be afraid to turn the tables and ask them a few cultural fit interview questions. The right interview questions can help you discover their management style, workflow structure, and mission focus. Ask about their particular company culture, and then, ask about the things that matter to you. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Do they promote from within?

  • How will your work be evaluated?

  • If you could describe the company culture here in three words, which would you choose and why?

  • What's one thing that's key to this company's success that an outsider wouldn't know about?

  • How would I get access to the information I'd need to be successful in this job?

  • What kinds of people are successful here? What kinds of people aren't?

  • How does the company recognize employee accomplishments?

By doing your own research and then asking the right cultural fit interview questions, you can set yourself up to properly evaluate a company before you get hired: That's the key. When you find a company that feels like a fit, you'll be excited to accept the job and can remain excited to go to work every day. If it's not a fit, say no. It can be difficult, but it's best for you and for them to say no before you start a bad working relationship.

Take charge of your career by finding the right cultural fit. It can be the difference between trudging to a job you hate or loving your career.

Need help practicing asking these company fit questions? Learn more about our interview coaching services

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