Three ways to determine company culture

Know if it’s a fit for you before accepting an offer.


When interviewing or even just applying for a new job, it’s important to know whether the company you’re looking into is a potential fit. The first step is to know how you prefer to work — do you need complete silence, or are you okay with Nerf balls sailing by your cubical?

Adam Smiley Poswolsky, millennial workplace expert and author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, explains it’s all about “the importance of fit and alignment over perfection.” Start by knowing how you work and the type of work environment that best suits your needs. Then, do your research and investigate what a company’s culture is like. Here’s how.

1. Take a look around the office

When you arrive for the interview, take note of the office. Is it clean and inviting? Look at the employees and what they’re doing. “What are the looks on their faces?” says Poswolsky. Do they seem to be enjoying their work, smiling, or chatting in the break room? Or are they more closed off and in their own offices?

Walking further into the office, take note of the vibe and body language of others. “What does it feel like when you walk into the place?” Poswolsky says. If employees are wearing jeans and gathering in common spaces, the company is most likely a more relaxed and casual environment. If the office is quiet and each person has a designated office or cubical, the company might be more structured and corporate — which isn’t a bad thing if you prefer quiet workspaces.

2. Do your research

There are plenty of ways to dig deeper into a company’s culture through your own investigation. Check out the company’s website for its values and mission statements, as well as sites like Glassdoor or the company’s Twitter feed. Even better, check to see if they have an Instagram that actually gives you an inside look behind the scenes. If you have any friends or mutual connections within the company, talk to them about what it’s like to work there and find out if they enjoy the organization.

“Find someone on social media and reach out to them,” Poswolsky said. He says social media can be a useful way to gain intel on a company. If you don’t know someone in the company beforehand, social media can be your tool to communicating with current and former employees.

3 ways to determine company culture - values

3. Get a feel for the interview

If the type of work environment isn’t clear from the interview, don’t be afraid to ask. Employers will be happy to know you’re interested in their company and want to know more about it.

Ask what the interviewer enjoys about his or her work, or how the company handles conflict within the office. “What do employees do together outside of office time?” Poswolsky suggests asking. Are there regular group lunches and team building experiences? If you’re in a group interview, do the interviewing colleagues seem friendly? Probe a bit to see what the general vibe is in the office.