The one aspect of company culture that remains consistent is that it is completely subjective.  An environment that provides an ideal working condition for one employee could possibly send another running to the nearest help-wanted ad.  Considering how many hours per day we spend at our jobs, it is only natural for individuals to actively seek a work culture that fits, at least closely, with their working habits, personality, and lifestyle.

Yet, with this in mind, how can job seekers truly know what type of company is a good cultural fit?

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Identifying your comfort zone

The best way to figure out where you belong is to figure out who you are.  Think back to previous positions you’ve held. At what time was your morale at its highest, and when did you find you were searching for some shred of inspiration to get through the day? Perhaps you’ve found that working for a spirited company sparked your enthusiasm.  You looked forward to the luncheons and company picnics, and embraced the family atmosphere. Conversely, you may be the type of employee who preferred a more subdued environment; and while you like your coworkers, you view a litany of company events, not as a perk, but more as a pressure.

Although these are basic examples, consider objectively when and how you perform best.  Chances are these are also the instances when you have been the most content in your place of employment.

Discovering what motivates you

Do you find that your output and quality increase when you know you’re “under fire”, so to speak?  Perhaps you aren’t the most self-directed employee, but since we are being objective, it’s really nothing to be ashamed, especially if you’re aware of it.  If knowing the presence of your superiors is imminent while you work on a project is what keeps you on track, then seeking an organization with a practical, hands-on leadership style may be best for you.  On the contrary, if you are an autonomous worker who finds that constant intervention from superiors actually slows you down and hinders your creativity, you may want to steer clear of a “micromanaging” atmosphere.

Recognizing a company’s culture

If you’ve had a job search that has drawn on just a little bit too long, it’s easy to put company culture at the bottom of your prerequisite list.   However, not taking into account your own needs and how they would ultimately integrate with the company with which you are interviewing, is basically increasing the odds that you will be back where you started, seeking employment.

How can job seekers possibly identify a company’s culture without first accepting the job and actually working for the organization? 

Before you even enter the hiring manager’s office, be sure to check out the organization’s LinkedIn page and company website.  A company’s “personality” can really shine through on their website as well as via their social media presence.  You will likely get a strong idea of whether a company promotes a fun, creative disposition or a dignified, corporate sensibility.

What is the best way for job candidates to discover the more minute details regarding a company’s culture?

Once you have landed in the interview chair, take this opportunity to directly ask the hiring manager about their management style and what qualities the company seeks in its best employees.  You may also want to consider asking your interviewer what they like best about their job. Asking the right questions will help you draw a direct connection between your own preferences and tendencies and what would most likely be expected of you by this particular employer.

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The Takeway

While we may not automatically give first priority to factors such as company culture when considering a new job, ascertaining how we will ultimately fit within an organization will actually help to increase our overall job stability. After all, whether employee or employer, everyone is on their best behavior at first, but as time wears on, it is often difficult — or even impossible — to hide our true inclinations.

Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200