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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

Ask a Recruiter: How Can I Be Sure the Culture Is a Good Fit?

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Dear Recruiter,

I’m in the final interview stages at a company I’m pretty excited about. The role is great for me and feels like a step up in my career. The problem is that I’m not sure it’s going to be the right fit. I know someone who used to work at the company, and she claimed the bosses played favorites. I’m really nervous about accepting an offer and then finding myself miserable because the culture's all wrong.

What advice do you have for me?

Lost and Confused

Hi Lost and Confused,

Congratulations! This is a good predicament to be in, so fear not. I’m confident I can help you through to the finish line and choose a job that’s the right fit with the advice below.

You mention the role is great for you. Why? Revisit what you were looking for at the beginning of your job search and what made this feel like a “step up in your career.” Consider things like whether the position will offer you the flexibility you need in your schedule or the challenge you are searching for to take your career to the next level.

No matter what the role is, it’s also important to have a genuine interest in the company’s products or services that you’ll be working on every day.

When it comes to assessing the right fit, people are usually referring to company culture. While a lot of companies offer exciting perks like free lunch or a pool table, at the end of the day, sinking that eight ball won’t help you connect better with your boss.

Look at the organization’s values and mission statement, consider the team members you’ve met in the interview process, and make sure the needs of past you align with your current wants.

Now let’s address the business of your friend. Feedback from the inside shouldn’t be ignored, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  1. Are you going to work on the same team as your friend worked?

  2. Is management the same since she left?

  3. What are some recent initiatives the company has taken to alleviate her past highlighted struggle (manager training, performance management, etc.)?

If the answers to A & B are “no” and the company has had any forward movement on their weak areas (C), I’d say you are pretty good to go. You can also check review sites to see if multiple people have shared similar feedback.

If you’re still unsure, use this final interview to ask your lingering questions. An interview is as much for you as it is for the employer. Your questions should be direct and specific, like these 22.

One more thing to keep in mind is that how a company presents itself is still important: Take time to visit their social media feeds, blog, or public employee profiles to get an additional indicator of culture.

Don’t second guess yourself. Those butterflies you feel in your stomach are good, and totally natural before making a big decision! But there is nothing wrong with ensuring you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Be sure to ask the hard questions, talk to who you need to and research the company. You’ll know in your gut whether the offer is right once you see that email in your inbox.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.

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