“Cultural Fit” and How to Find It

At some point in your career, you may come across a company that looks like a great fit for you on paper, but whose company culture doesn’t mesh with your ideal work environment. For some reason or another, you may feel like the black sheep of the bunch or find yourself cringing when looking more closely at the company’s values and work practices.

Cultural fit can come in the form of decision making, work practices, language and other factors. In short, it’s the overall tone of the company. A smart employer will be assessing your cultural fit within the organization throughout your job interview—it could even be the deciding factor between you and an equally qualified candidate. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t assess your fit too.How you behave during an interview can tell employers a lot about how you may interact with coworkers. Don’t hesitate to ask similar questions to see how the employer would react to a given situation. A company’s culture is really influenced by the owners and managerial staff because they make the decisions, so make sure you try to get feedback from others about what management is like and consider talking to former employees or consultants by connecting on LinkedIn.

Know yourself! Before your next interview, you may want to ask yourself the following questions to see if the cultural fit is right for you:

1) Will you enjoying working alone or actively involved in a team environment?

2) What type of management style do you like: getting lots of direction, or being left to your own devices?

3) What type of work environment are you most productive in?

4) Out of all your previous positions, which did you feel most comfortable in and why?

Once you’re at the interview, start to analyze whether the employers’ responses fit with your ideal working environment. A good way to learn more about the company culture is just to ask about it. If the interviewer can’t clearly describe what it is, that could be a sign of trouble.

At the end of the day, a lot of it will come down to what your gut is telling you. No matter how great a company may seem during the interview stage, if you feel uneasy, don’t ignore it. Take the time to go back and ask more questions to ensure you have all the information you need to assess whether the company is right for you.

Remember, finding a good cultural fit is beneficial to all the parties involved. Your productivity, happiness and decision to stay with the company long-term depend on this, so don’t forget to take this into account.

Ruvini Godakandae

Ruvini Godakandae is an Ottawa-based career educator and communications professional. She enjoys helping students and graduates in their job search and writing about career development topics. Follow her on Twitter at @Ruvini_G

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