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The Corporate-Culture Conundrum

The Corporate-Culture Conundrum

Susan Bryant | Monster Contributing Writer

November 13, 2009

Jack Sullivan couldn’t have been happier after landing his dream job. The position, salary and perks were exactly what he was looking for. But after the initial euphoria wore off, he discovered that going to work was becoming the same daily grind all over again. Although he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what was wrong, he knew one thing for sure: He was not comfortable in his new job.

What Went Wrong?

Jack did not fit with the company’s corporate culture, which is no surprise given that a company’s culture — the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that commonly unite its employees — are often unstated and unwritten.

According to Brandon Spruth, former culture and talent manager for now-defunct Xolia.com, a Web site that matched users with service providers, the first step toward determining whether you will be a good match for a prospective employer is by figuring out what you want from a company’s culture. Do you want a family-friendly company? A social as well as professional outlet? An emphasis on work/life balance?

Know what you want before you go into the interview. Unless you know an employee already working for the company, your interviewer may be your only insider, so ask questions that can provide a window into what working there will really be like. Take note of both the intentional and unintentional information your interviewer gives out in words and actions.

Try popping these questions during your next interview to see what kind of information is revealed about the corporate culture you may be joining.

Does the company have a stated set of cultural values?

Progressive companies are aware of corporate culture’s influence and have thought about the values they want to promote in their organizations. If the company has no written cultural values, ask to see the mission statement, which should also provide some insight in this area.

What does it take for someone to be successful here?

What kind of personal characteristics is the interviewer looking for? Risk-taking? Entrepreneurial spirit? A team player? Take note of the personality traits that are encouraged and rewarded and think about what this says about company culture. Asking this question early in the interview also allows you to incorporate these sought-after characteristics into your answers.

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