Company Culture – How to Tell What It’s Really Like to Work There

hand pile from employees

The job description fits you to a T, and the pay isn’t too bad either. But how do you really know if you’ll like the environment, people or company culture? Finding out about a company’s true personality may not be as difficult as you think. Follow the easy steps below and you’ll be on your way to uncovering what it’s really like to work there.

Arrive 15 minutes early to your interview.

This is a good practice when job hunting. It gives you an opportunity to sit back and observe your surroundings. Is the physical office space clean and organized? Do employees greet the receptionist and each other when coming in and out? Without making it obvious, try to listen to the conversations going on around you. Are people complaining or do they appear productive for the most part? Are you getting that warm and fuzzy feeling yet?

Request a tour of the office.

Ask your interviewer to show you around the office. Take notice of the employee workspace and office setup. Are the cubes and offices roomy enough? Do they have an employee lounge or cafe? Are people talking and working together or is it… silent? Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable spending nine hours a day in this environment.

Schedule your interview at lunch or at the end of the day.

Not only will this fit better with your schedule, but you can also check out employees’ attitudes when returning from lunch or leaving for the day. Are they smiling and looking generally happy, or do they look exhausted and grumpy?


You’d be surprised how many people don’t simply ask! Ask each person you meet with how he or she feels about working at this company. Pay particular attention to their response and body language — did they take a deep breath before answering or did a smile break out across their face? What are their likes and dislikes? Have they made any good friends or found mentors at the company?

Do a Reality Check.

To get an honest look at the company’s flexibility, ask your interviewer to discuss challenges he or she has encountered on past projects and how the issues were ultimately resolved. Were the challenges surrounding top-management red tape and an inability to move forward? (“Proceed with Caution”). Or were the issues typical of most projects: low resources, client’s microscopic budget or technology snag? (“Unfortunate but Common”). Are these issues that you are used to handling or will this throw you for a loop? Be honest asking yourself, “Will I be happy in this environment?”

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