You’ve heard the saying: “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” It’s a quote that’s been wrongly attributed to Confucius, Harvey Mackay, and many others. But regardless of who said it, the sentiment remains true. When you truly enjoy your work, you’re less likely to stress out over your job and dread going into the office. But even if you figure out your perfect profession, how much you’ll actually enjoy the job depends entirely on the company you wind up working for.
Every workplace has a unique way of doing things, known as company culture. Company culture is all about the personality of the company. This culture starts at the highest level of management and works its way down to every employee. It emphasizes what the company values most in their workers (hard work, compassion, a friendly atmosphere) and has a huge impact on morale. You want to find a company that meshes well with your personal values and how you work.
So how do you go about finding a company you love?
The first step is to evaluate yourself. Consider the kind of work environment you thrive in. Do prefer a traditional workplace, or a more casual one? Are you internally motivated to improve? Or do you prefer to be given goals to reach? Once you know what your ideal workplace would be, you can start researching companies that will be a good fit.
It’s not as hard as you might think. All it requires is research and asking the right questions. Company culture is built on four main pillars: people, practices, place, and perks. We’re going to break down each of these components. How they impact company culture, where to learn about them, and what questions to ask to get the inside scoop.
Why it matters: The people make the company. Your coworkers and managers are who you will interact with every day; they play a major part in determining how you feel about your job. 75% of workers who quit their jobs do so because of their managers. Not low pay or weird company policies. The criteria that interviewers look for in a candidate’s personality directly shape company culture.
Where to research: Head to Glassdoor for this one! Read their reviews. What do people say about their coworkers? Are they kind and hardworking? Or do they throw each other under the bus? What do they say under “Advice to Management”?
What to ask the interviewer:
- “How do you recognize employee achievement?”
- “What traits do you look for in employees?”
- “Are there any company-wide charity efforts?”
Why it matters: How does a company ensure that they are living up to their core values? For example, a company that lists transparency as one of their values will often subscribe to an open door policy, where employees can ask their superiors questions. Or if they highly value their employees, it would be weird for them to work their staff to the bone for low pay. If a company embodies their mission and values, it will be reflected in the way they treat their employees.
Where to research: Head to the “About Us” page on their website. What is their mission statement? Their core values? How do they match up with your own personal worldview? Jot their mission and values down before your interview so you can refer to them later.
What to ask the interviewer:
- “How does the company strive to meet their goals?”
- “What major challenges does the company face?”
- “What makes for a successful company employee?”
Why it matters: There’s a reason why Google has spent almost 500 million dollars on the Googleplex, the company’s Mountain View headquarters. It’s not because they have money to burn. It’s because having a spectacular office makes people feel good coming into work. Don’t worry though. Companies don’t need Alphabet Inc dollars to make an office truly awesome. Comfortable workspaces, decent views, easy parking and decent décor & design all make employees happy in ways that a grey cube-farm cannot.
Where to research: You can check out Glassdoor and the company website to see if they feature any pictures of the office space. You can also try googling the company’s name and address to see what comes up in the image search or the Google Knowledge Panel.
There’s no need to ask the interviewer: The best way to get a sense of what the workspace is like is during your on-site interview. Arrive early so you’ll be able to check out their office. You could ask the office manager where their restroom is – you might get a mini tour this way without it feeling too obvious.
Why it matters: It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference between a fine workplace and an awesome one. Perks are a great signal that companies truly care about their workers’ happiness – not just their productivity. Free food, customizable workspaces, dog-friendly offices, and incredible healthcare packages go above and beyond an employee’s expectations.
Where to research: You’ll often find perks listed on the company’s job page, or rating sites like Glassdoor. Googling “[Company Name] Careers” will often take you to their career page, where they tout all the benefits of working for them
What to ask the interviewer:
- “Describe your favorite thing about working for the company.”
- “What is the coolest or most unique perk the company offers?”
Learning about a company culture during your interview is the only way to truly understand if you’d enjoy working there. Even at entry-level jobs, when companies treat their employees right and focus on cultivating a healthy work environment, people come to work happy to perform. Above all, healthy culture companies have higher employee satisfaction, better workplace productivity, and lower turnover than toxic workplaces.
So don’t be afraid to come out and ask your interviewer directly:
- “How would you describe the company culture?”
- “What do employees like to do outside of work?”
- “How does the company promote work-life-balance?”
Each of these questions will be easy for an interviewer to answer when a company is running smoothly. If the interviewer is stumbling through them, think twice before you apply.