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Will I Be a Good Fit

Posted on January 18, 2017
Handwritten words: "Corporate Culture" written on a white board

The cultures at two companies, even if they produce the same product, can be drastically different from one another. This corporate culture is defined by what the company values, which then dictates how it operates, and how its employees interact and communicate with one another. This is the first of two posts that will look at the idea of employee fit and corporate culture.

It is difficult to ascertain the corporate culture from simply examining a company’s website. It’s a face-to-face thing. As a potential employee, you need to spend time, observe, listen, and ask questions to understand dress, work hours, expectations for collaboration, celebratory customs, etc.

If, at the end of your interview process, you love the responsibilities outlined in the job description, the hiring manager has great expertise in his/her field, the pay is great, the location is even better (not to mention the benefits), but you’ve observed that everyone in the office is dressed professional, sporting suits, neckties, and polished shoes, and you’re coming from a start-up where jeans, sneakers, and your favorite t-shirt are your standards, then Houston, you may have a problem.

If you like your space, the privacy of an office, a place to think and get work done, but the company where you are interviewing is set up with collaboration spaces and no private offices, then it is unlikely you’re going to thrive.

So, how do you know if the company will be a good fit?

Pay attention and ask questions. As much as it is important for you determine if a company is a good fit, it is also in the best interests of the company to ensure you’re a good fit as well. First, you need begin the process of having some idea of what is important to you, and understand what are your deal breakers. If you need an office, then don’t continue with the application process if you discover you won’t be getting one. No matter how much money the position pays, you will be unhappy.

While different companies value different things, set different expectations, and support their employees in different manners, below is a list of five important items you should focus on as you try to determine if a company will be a good fit:

1) Employee Interaction — how do the employees interact? Do they look happy? If they are not visible during your interview(s), then ask the interviewer to describe a typical day.
2) Office Space and Set-up — look at the office space. Does it fit with your expectations of cleanliness, upkeep, layout, and size?
3) Personal Time — get a feel for how the company values time off. Do they encourage employees to take their time, or is vacation allotted but with an expectation to not use it all?
4) Team Building — are there team building initiatives? Does leadership take the team off site every so often? Is basketball at lunch an unwritten expectation?
5) Dress Code — is it formal or informal (attire, attitudes, etc.)? If formal, are there ever casual days? If informal, what are the expectations when clients are in-house?

If you are satisfied with your observations to the items in the list above, then a good fit is much more likely. If question linger, then ask. If responses leave you in doubt, pay attention to that doubt, because it’s telling you something. It’s a signal, a warning that the company might not be a good fit.

Do recognize that no company is perfect. There is no magical seamless fit. You have to weigh what is most important to you and know the type of environment in which you thrive. Be reasonable; in other words, don’t walk in with unreasonable expectations.

In next week’s post, I’ll look at what to do if you’ve taken the position only to learn it isn’t a good fit.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips