We hear people talk about the culture of a company, but what do they mean? How do you figure out what the company’s culture is when you interview? How do you know if you will be a good fit there?

Know the type of atmosphere where you are most comfortable. There are warm and friendly work settings and there are companies where you work and do nothing else. There are organizations that demand a very rigid culture and others that are very relaxed. There are companies that are very conservative and others that are more liberal. The better you match the culture, the more productive and satisfied you will be.

When you show up for an interview, use all your senses and become a detective.

Look at the outside of the building for the first clues about a warm, friendly atmosphere. Picnic benches or places for people to relax and chat during lunch and bright landscaping might suggest a friendly culture. Assigned parking spots for executives might lead you to believe titles are important and they might be more structured.

The reception area will give you more clues. Is the lobby a showcase of their products or awards? You might see pictures of sports teams the company has sponsored, Supplier of the Year Awards, pictures of the founder or the owner or membership certificates from organizations they belong to. If people greet you warmly, the company probably encourages that behavior. If you see people talking to each other without looking over their shoulder, the company appears to be friendly. If the atmosphere is very quiet and people are sitting working without conversing with each other the culture probably encourages that behavior. Observe the way people are dressed. If they are all wearing suits you know the atmosphere is more structured.

Your fit into a company culture is imperative to your success. If you are a very quiet person who doesn’t like to be interrupted, a company that allows people to chat with each other openly as they walk past someone’s desk may make you uncomfortable. You might want a cubicle instead of an open office so you can stay busy at your own tasks.

If you are working with one of our professional staffing offices, our placement personnel can tell you a lot about the company culture and their expectations before you go to the interview. We will help to match you with a company where you can shine and a job you will love. Click here for our office locations.