How to Get a Sense of Company Culture in the Interview

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars


Company culture is a key component to how happy people are in their jobs. “Company culture” is a phrase that’s thrown around so often it can feel like a cliché, but in reality, company culture just means whether we like the people we work with. Daily tasks in a job are one thing, but if you actually enjoy the people you’re working with and for, you’re going to enjoy coming to work, too.

Interviewing for a job is stressful, and most people fail to get a feel for the culture in that narrow window. Most candidates are so busy thinking about salary, growth potential, and whether they might have something in their teeth that they don’t evaluate one of the biggest factors in their future happiness at a company: Culture!

Human resources articles and blogs are always discussing the importance of finding the right candidates and creating a great culture, but as job seekers, spotting the traits of a solid culture is difficult. These tips may help you figure out if a business is a great place or a disaster waiting to happen.

Chances are that you’ll have some time to wait before the interview, whether that’s in a lobby, office, or conference room. Instead of tapping your foot nervously, use the time to look around and get a sense of the company.

What does the space feel like? If it’s comfortable and clean, that’s a good sign. Decorating taste aside, the way a space feels says a lot about how much the people who work there care about their jobs.

If the interview goes well, ask to use the restroom on the way out. If there are paper towels on the floor and it’s dirty, that’s a sign employees may have given up. Plus, the restroom is a good place to see the people you might be working with.

You may overhear conversations that give huge clues about the culture, and you might even be able to say hi while washing your hands or getting a drink at the water fountain. If people are friendly, that’s a great sign. If they look like zombies who keep checking their watches to see if it’s 5:00 yet…not good.

Logging onto Facebook and Twitter may seem counterproductive to a job search, but social media outlets can show outsiders another side of the company. Does the business have a social presence, and if so, what impression do you get from their posts?

Social media can be a great way to research a company’s vibe. Our #TSProckstars hashtag gives potential employees a good idea of TSP.

Lots of companies like to talk big about benefits, but the details are vague until after you sign up and find out that the “wellness perk” is just a $5 discount at the gym. When the interviewer describes the upsides of the company, ask for specifics.

For example, if they say employees are up for promotion after a year, ask for an example of someone who started your same career path and has been promoted.

Getting a clearer outline of the upsides will help you find out if a company’s culture is hot air or the real deal.