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Asking for a Friend: How Can I Uncover a Company’s Culture Before Joining?

Eyes wide open.
H. Michael Burgett
Contributing Writer

Dear Mike:

I’m currently navigating the job market and have been diligently focusing on finding positions that align with my skills and career goals. However, reflection on a recent experience made me realize the significance of a company’s culture in my overall job satisfaction.

In my last role, I often felt like a square peg in a round hole, and I suspect it was due to a misalignment with the company’s culture. I’m keen to avoid repeating this experience in my next role.

Could you offer some detailed advice on how to effectively assess a company’s culture during the job search and interview process? I want to ensure that my next move is not only a step forward in my career but also into an environment where I can truly thrive.

Many thanks for your insights,




Hi Patty,

Your question is a critical one, as finding a cultural fit is just as important as finding the right role. When your values align with those of the organization, it not only leads to a more fulfilling work experience but also enhances your overall job satisfaction.

Here’s how you can approach this:

Reflect on Your Values: Before you start assessing a company’s culture, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for in a work environment. Consider the aspects of your previous jobs that made you feel satisfied and motivated. What values are important to you? Do you thrive in collaborative settings, or do you prefer more independence? Are you looking for a company that prioritizes innovation, sustainability, or community involvement? This self-reflection will serve as a guide in evaluating a company’s culture.

In-Depth Research: To get a sense of a company’s culture, start with their website, but don’t stop there. Check out their social media profiles, blogs, and press releases. How do they present themselves to the public? What kind of language do they use? Look for insights into their employee engagement initiatives, community involvement, and charitable support. This can give you a sense of their priorities and values.

Employee Reviews: While platforms like Glassdoor can offer some insights, it’s important to approach them with caution due to their subjective nature. Instead, look for more objective indicators of a company’s culture. Check if the company has received any ‘Best Places to Work‘ awards, which are often based on comprehensive employee feedback and can be a reliable indicator of a positive workplace environment. Additionally, see if the company publishes its Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), which measures employee satisfaction and loyalty. A high eNPS is a good sign that employees are happy and would recommend the company as a great place to work.

Leverage Your Network: If you have connections who currently work, have worked at the company, or know somehow who has, reach out to them for firsthand insights. They can provide unfiltered information about the company culture. Ask specific questions about the day-to-day work life, how the company handles challenges, and the overall employee morale.

Observations During Interviews: The interview process is a crucial time for you to assess the company. Observe the dynamics between employees. How do they interact with each other and with you? What is the office environment like? Also, pay attention to the questions they ask you – do they focus solely on skills and experience, or do they also inquire about your fit with the company’s values and culture?

By combining these methods, you can gain a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of a company’s culture. Once you’ve gathered insights, consider sharing your observations with the employer during the interview process. This provides them with the opportunity to affirm your understanding of their culture, ensuring that both parties are aligned and confident in the fit.

Remember, a transparent discussion about culture benefits both you and the prospective employer, setting the stage for a successful and satisfying professional journey.

Best of luck in your search!



TNCR Community – what advice would you add to this thread? Do you have a perspective that you can share? Have a career question for Mike? Email him directly at

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