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Learn About A Prospective Employer's Culture Before Accepting An Offer

Learn About A Prospective Employer's Culture Before Accepting An Offer

In a recent study conducted by CareerBuilder, it was found that 74% of people are actively looking for new career opportunities or would be open to exploring one. If you are one of those motivated professionals, did you know that, regardless of your skills, an organization’s culture can determine how well you will succeed?

As executive search consultants, we believe that learning about a prospective employer’s culture is an essential step in considering a new career opportunity. And exploring the aspects of its culture goes well beyond looking at their recruitment web site, tweets, Facebook page and YouTube videos. You need to dedicate time to appropriately evaluating the company’s culture and its primary characteristics by asking specific questions during interviews, and talking to people who are current and previous employees as well as others who know the organizational well.

When doing so, there are six aspects of an organization’s culture that we suggest you explore:

Overall Values:

  • What does [organization], as a whole, value?

  • What is [organization’s] guiding mission?

  • What words describe [organization]?

  • How does [organization] support the work/life balance of its employees?


  • How would [organization’s] senior executives be described? Are they viewed favorably? Are they trusted?

  • What professional and personal qualities are similar among them?

  • How influential are middle managers and other appropriate employees in decision-making?

  • How are achievements celebrated?

  • How are failures handled?

Internal Communication:

  • How are [organization’s] goals and strategies communicated to employees?

  • What are [organization’s] current objectives and plans?

Employee Performance:

  • How are employees rewarded / recognized for outstanding performance?

  • What types of behavior are rewarded / recognized?

  • How are performance appraisals conducted and how often? What is specifically evaluated for the role you are interviewing for?

  • What are the objectives and expectations for the role you are interviewing for?

Professional Development:

  • How does [organization] develop its employees? What training or mentoring programs are offered?

  • How does [organization] keep employees engaged and challenged?

  • How does [organization] encourage innovation and creativity?

Recruitment & Retention:

  • How does [organization] continually recruit employees?

  • What are [organization’s] retention initiatives and programs?

  • What is the average tenure of employees and of those within the specific department you would be working in?

When you pose these questions to multiple interviewers or current employees, compare their answers. If they tend to have the same viewpoints, it is safe to assume that the organization has a strong culture. But, if their answers are inconsistent, that could be a red flag.

Other things we recommend you do, as a potential candidate, are:

  • Ask interviewers and current employees why they work there.

  • Watch how employees interact with each other and their body language.

  • Observe how the office is designed (is it open or are there offices with doors closed, etc.).

  • Meet as many current employees as you can.

Although it may seem like considering the above is being overly cautious, you have to understand that making a career move in today’s business climate is risky. An organization’s culture is a significant factor in assessing a new opportunity as it can determine your ability to succeed and, more importantly, how well you will enjoy your new role.