Should company culture sway your decision about taking a job?

An organization’s culture can be one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not to take a job. But should it be the main one?

Stefanija Tenekedjieva

Stefanija Tenekedjieva

Company culture, or the set of shared values, beliefs and behaviors within a workplace, is seen as one of the most important factors that help job candidates take up an offer. Being a good fit for the company (not just based on competencies and experience, but also on views and attitudes), seems to be the most important reason people work for a company these days.

In fact, company culture is an important factor for 46% of job seekers. A staggering 86% of people avoid companies with a bad reputation, and millennials, in particular, see being a ‘people and culture fit’ as their top priority in job hunting.

Although some argue that hiring for culture fit creates an unconscious bias — and culture isn’t a metric that can be measured — it is a no-brainer that everyone wants their company and management to recognize and reward their hard work and share their views. Else, it is hard to see yourself making it long-term in a place where your views clash all the time with those of your peers.

So, how do you make a decision based on culture? Where do you start assessing what is important? Let’s take it step by step.

Define your needs and preferences

Think of your own needs and expectations first before you make sure whether you belong in a company. Map all the red flags and positive aspects, and then involve yourself in research and start the interview process.

Here are some questions that need to be answered:

Is the product or service something that you’d be passionate about?

When considering taking up a job offer, think about your daily responsibilities, duties and accountabilities. Is the final result something you’d be proud to sign your name under? Are you going to feel excited to work on the product, and do you have trust in its success? These are important factors, and if the answer is no, work is going to feel dull and irrelevant.

Is the work environment preferable for you?

Whether it is remote or in-office, flexible or set work hours, an open-plan office or the comfort of your own little space — the environment in which you work can be very, very important.

Do you prefer a competitive or collaborative atmosphere?

Some companies leave their employees with untied hands and full ownership of their own projects and tasks. Others tend to have a more hands-on approach and even tend to micromanage. Try to pinpoint which kind of approach works best for you and helps you thrive at work.

Do you prefer independence or close working relationships?

Do you like to work closely with a tight-knit team, or do you prefer reporting your tasks once every week or so and being the master of your own schedule? This is also an important factor that is often tied to the company culture.

Is this job something you see yourself doing for a long time?

If you cannot envision yourself being at this potential new job for a longer period of time, perhaps you shouldn’t consider it.

Will this job support you in your career growth?

One of the most important things you can do to make sure you want to say yes to a job offer is to learn if it will help you become even better at what you do.

Is it a culture that promotes the growth and learning of its employees, or does it like to clip their wings and let them become comfortable in the same position for a long period of time?

Good company culture also means that the employees evolve with the company itself.

What you should pay attention to

Now that you’ve thought about your personal preferences and created a value system to help you find the best workplace, let’s go through some details that will help you assess the company culture of your potential employers.

Do you share the same values?

From your first contact with the company, its social media profiles and ‘About us’ section on the website — to how the hiring manager approaches the values and beliefs of the company when doing an interview — you might see a glimpse into what makes the company tick.

If they don’t have similar views and don’t reward the same characteristics in a person like you, your synergy might be a bit off, and working together can be hard.

Does the company offer growth opportunities?

A good way to check this is to find employees that have moved up the ranks and been promoted within the company. Are they comfortable investing in their employees to learn more and improve their skills within their expertise? The answer should bring you one step closer to accepting or rejecting the job offer.

Does it reward and support its employees?

Go to Glassdoor or Indeed, and read the reviews about the company. Or simply reach out to a current employee on LinkedIn and ask them about their unbiased opinion about what it’s like to work there. Chances are you’ll get a more objective view than the one you would get from Human Resources.

Are the employees happy with the work environment?

Happy employees usually like to share their good experiences working for a company on platforms like LinkedIn. Do some ‘snooping around’ and see what they have to say about the atmosphere, tempo and work environment in general.

So, what is the final answer?

There is no final answer. For some people, culture matters most. For others, the ability to make more money. A third group would prefer a flexible work environment, and a fourth would accept a job because it feels comfortable.

But, the fact is, a culture that doesn’t agree with your personal beliefs and value system will eventually drive you out of the company. If you are looking for a job where you could work for a long time, culture is very important.