By Kimberly Wilks, Peer Advisor

Company culture is extremely important these days. Many companies have thrown out the traditional suit and tie work-space for a more casual environment. As a job seeker, it is important that you do not overlook a company’s culture because this may play a huge part in your job satisfaction. In some companies, employees who stay extra hours are praised because it shows their dedication to their work. However, in other companies, employees who stay past their normal work hours seem as if they are struggling to keep up with the demands of the job. Not every company culture will fit your personality, and it is important to remember that. Some have a horizontal culture meaning that it can be hard to distinguish who are the senior employees. On the contrary, others have a strict hierarchy and you may never meet the c-suite employees. Does the company you’re applying to place extreme importance on employee input or do they have their established customs that they are unwilling to change? Here are some tips on piecing together a company’s culture:

1) The company website!

A company’s website will tell you all about the company and what it has to offer. However, the way that this information is delivered is a key indicator of company culture. Is the website colorful and filled with images of happy customers and employees? Or is it black and white and filled with paragraphs of information? Of course, these are the two extremes but the website should be an accurate depiction of the company atmosphere. Is the site extremely user-friendly or is it a bit complex? What is the general tone of the website? Is it very formal and professional or is it playful and conversational? Compare these to what you are looking for in a company. Figure out if you prefer a company that has a more relaxed atmosphere or if you’d fit the very formal environment.

2) Current employees!

If you met a current employee, what did they emphasize the most about the company? Does the employee feel that they never know what to expect when they walk into work each day or do they have a very strict outline of their duties? Remember to compare their experience to what you are looking for. Figure out if you thrive in ambiguous environments or if you require detailed instructions. The company website will probably tell you company values. Does the employee know these values by heart and do they play a role in employee conduct?

3) The interview!

The company thinks that you may be a fit for the position, so they have invited you for an interview. Pay attention before, during, and after the interview to the clues that the recruiter give. Some employers may tell you the logistics of the interview beforehand, while others will just tell where to be at what time. This can show you how much ambiguity to expect. It is becoming more common for employers to tell candidates to dress in business casual. Some have even said jeans and a t-shirt are fine. If you feel uncomfortable showing up to the interview in the recommended attire, then business professional is usually safe. However, you should think about why it makes you uncomfortable and if you would prefer a company that is more formal. Showing up in business professional when it is not recommended may work against you. During the interview, present yourself in the most honest way possible. Do not pretend to be who you think the company wants the ideal candidate to be. Remember to pay attention to subtle hints the employer gives about the culture. The formality or informality of the interview will provide insight.

4) Ask!

Whether it is at a career fair or at the end of an interview, be sure to ask questions about the company culture. Ask about the different ways that the company invests in its employees, performance measures, and what an employee would change about the company culture. Employees will usually give an honest opinion because they want you to know what to expect from the company. This will help you find a job within a company that you love and will help the company find an employee who fits.

Good luck, Canes!