Americans work hard, and we work a lot – long hours are expected in most industries, and tech roles can require responding to issues around the clock. When you spend that many hours working, you want to feel comfortable in the workplace. Finding a company culture that fits you well is as important to job happiness as your salary and benefits. Use these tips to figure out whether a company’s culture is the right one for you.
Know what you're looking for.
Give some thought to company culture before you start your job search process. The atmosphere at almost any startup is going to be different from the atmosphere at more established firms. The vibe in certain kinds of industries is known to be cutthroat, while others are more laid back. While there are exceptions to every generalization, if you think about the culture you want before you start looking for a new position, you'll be able to target your job search more effectively.
Pay attention to what the company tells you.
Many companies talk about their culture on their website. The career pages may also talk about what it's like to work there. Videos with current employees talking about their projects and their experience give a non-HR point of view (even if the message is company-approved).
Pay attention to what the company doesn't tell you.
When you're on site for an interview, notice what's going on around you. You'll see what the office space is like – how high are the dividers between cubicles; do the managers keep their doors closed? Notice how people are dressed, whether you see groups of employees talking about work or non-work subjects, and the level of tension in the air.
Pay attention to what former employees say.
You can read reviews of a company on sites like Glassdoor. It's impossible to know for sure the motivations behind comments and how much truth they contain, but reading them will give you insiders' opinions.
Part of your discussion with your interviewers should be asking about the company culture. Tailor your questions to the interviewer's position and level. If talking with an HR employee, you can find out the official position and how the company sees itself. When you talk with the hiring manager, you can find out about the atmosphere they try to maintain within their team. And when you meet with technical staff, you can find out what the reality is for those in the job you'll be working in.