How to make sure your new job is a cultural fit before you say “yes” to the d̶r̶e̶s̶s̶ role
By Carolyn Brown
Congratulations on acing the interview and getting the job. How do you feel? Excited, confident OR now that the “competition” to secure the role is over, is there a part of you that is unsure if the company is a good fit for you?
Perhaps something happened during the interview that sat uneasily with you upon reflection. Whatever the reason, know that you do not have to accept a job offer straight away. It is okay to ask for more information about the role and the people you will be working for. The New Zealand Government’s career website acknowledges this, so don’t feel like you are doing anything wrong in taking the time to decide. After all, it’s your career, and if you are not completely happy from the outset, it doesn’t bode well for you or the employer long term.
Assessing the cultural fit of the company is all on you. But the following are some fairly easy things you can do to help you decide.
1. Reflect on the interview
Take some time to go over the interview in your head, not thinking about your performance but how they responded to you. For example, did they make you feel welcome or was the interview matter of fact? Were they genuinely interested in what you had to say, or were they only listening for keywords to tick the boxes on their core competency forms? Was anything said that you were uncomfortable with answering, or they really shouldn’t have asked upon reflection? Did you feel that you would be happy working for them from day one?
2. Ask to meet with them again before signing your contract
This time, the emphasis is on you interviewing them. That’s right, if you didn’t ask or weren’t given an opportunity in the interview; now is the perfect time to ask your potential employer what the organisation’s culture is and what induction procedures they have to help you settle in. You could also ask them for a tour of where you will work and meet the people you will be working with. It might feel awkward asking to do this, but it’s something they should offer as it’s also an opportunity for them to see your people skills in action (note, once a job offer has been made to you, you can turn it down, but they can’t take it away from you, without the risk of a personal grievance case). Other questions worth asking include:
For your manager:
- How do you help your employees succeed?
- How are performance goals set, and how often are they reviewed?
- How does the company communicate with its employees, i.e., one way and top down, face to face with opportunities for feedback or only when necessary?
- Why did you choose to work for the organisation?
- Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined from the onset?
- How does the organisation foster well-being and maintain morale?
If introduced to other employees:
- What do you like about working for the organisation?
- Do you feel supported in your role?
- Are you kept informed about what is happening in the organisation and how it affects your role?
- What happens when there is a problem?
3. Ask to see where you will be working
Are the working conditions comfortable and safe? What is the atmosphere like in the office (metaphorically, not literally, although if the atmosphere does smell funky, it is okay to ask if it is normal or not!). Do people seem happy working there, or does it feel uncomfortable? Remember, this is a place you will be spending the majority of your time, so you need to feel good about being there. If you are going to be working from home, ask how the organisation keeps people connected and the team working together, despite the distance.
4. Check out their online history
If you do not feel confident asking them straight out about their culture, take an extra deep dive into their online history. Hopefully, you already gave them a look over when prepping for the interview. If you didn’t, congrats on winging it, but I strongly encourage you to do it now. If you did, go a bit deeper than the first page of the search results and canvas all the socials. Remember, you are not looking for dirt on the company, just confirmation that their values match yours.
5. Ask them for a reference check
Yip, that’s right, just like the guy in Oz who asked his landlord for references, in a tight labour market, I have heard on the grapevine that some people have also been asking potential employers for references. CEO of Do Good Jobs, Julia Capon, supports this idea and thinks organisations should be open to allowing and even encouraging existing staff to act as referees (without fear of retaliation, of course!) what better way to showcases your culture!
Remember, you do not have to accept a role just because you have been offered it. It is okay to:
- ask for more information about the organisation and the people who will be working for
- seek independent advice and negotiate the terms of employment if they will cause you undue hardship
- change your mind about working for them.
Let us know if you have any other tips for assessing potential employers in the comments.
About Carolyn Brown
Carolyn enjoys writing stuff that engages readers, makes them feel like they are in a conversation with the screen, and doesn’t require a dictionary on standby to make sense of what she has written.
When she is not creating content, she likes to keep busy volunteering for various not for profits; throwing sticks to her step-dog as they walk along North Beach in Christchurch, and enjoying the company of friends. If you would like to know more, head on over to her website www.writecopynz.co.nz or email her at [email protected]