How to Tell if a Company’s Culture is Right for You

How to tell if a compan_s culture is right for you

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You know company culture is a big deal. It’s one of the main ways companies distinguish
themselves from one another, which is why you’re probably constantly hearing about it. Tech
companies and startups in particular always seem to be trying to outdo the competition in
terms of a cool culture full of workplace perks (like these!).

But before you get lured in to a new job because of ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs, you
have to figure out if that culture is actually going to be one where you can be happy and

Do some digging to figure out what, exactly, the company culture is, and then sit down to think
about whether it’s the right environment for you. Here’s what to consider before you accept a
job offer.

What Motivates You?

For some people, a beautiful office with floor-to-ceiling windows does wonders for their
productivity. For others, what the office looks like hardly matters so long as there are smart
people to exchange ideas with.

To figure out what type of environment really motivates you, think about a time when you
were extremely productive. What was special about that situation? Were you working alone or
with others? Did you have a looming deadline or generous time freedom? Were you dealing
with people or with the product? Ask yourself these questions and more. Then, do the same
thing, but with a situation in which you were horribly unproductive.

In short, try to pinpoint what helps you do your best work (and your worst). Having an idea
about what is right for you and then seeing if it aligns with what your prospective employer has
to offer is the first step in deciding whether this new job is for you or not.

What Makes You Happy?

What makes you happy at work and what motivates you can sometimes be pretty similar.
Autonomy, for example, could cover both. But that’s not always the case. Working under
pressure, for instance, might motivate you, but it might not be something that you particularly

For people who have had the luxury of working in a place that they loved, it might be easy to
figure out exactly what makes them happy at work. For others, it’ll probably take more work. In
that case, it might help to work backward and think about what makes you unhappy. Are you
super cranky in the morning? Maybe you would appreciate a later start or more flexible

schedule. Is your day incomplete without witty banter about the current state of American
politics? Knowing the interests of your colleagues will be important in your decision. Do you
feel like an empty husk of a person if you can’t get in a quick run in the middle of the day? A
company that incorporates exercise in its work week might just be the thing for you.

It’s easy to be dazzled by perks like catered lunches and beer on tap, but don’t let them tempt
you into a workplace that is actually ill-suited for maximizing your own personal happiness.

What Is the Lifestyle Fit?

You’ve gone through the whole interview process, and presumably the hiring manager believes
you are a good cultural fit. Now it’s your turn to see if the position is a good fit for your life. The
job can be fantastic, but if it ends up being really taxing on the lifestyle you want, it could be a
bigger problem that you realize.

It turns out, company culture has a surprising amount of impact on your lifestyle. For example,
the culture might be that no one leaves before the CEO or that everyone gets kicked out of the
building at 6 PM. Or it might be that everyone bonds over daily catered meals—which sounds
nice, unless you’d rather spend breakfast and dinner with your family. When you’re thinking
about company culture, it’s not just what will keep you happy at work—it’s also what will keep
you happy at home. Don’t neglect that bit.

In the end, this has been a longwinded way of saying that finding the right company culture for
you comes down to understanding what your career values are (more on that here). It might
seem awfully self-important to consider all this before accepting a job offer, especially if you’ve
just gone through a grueling job search, but realistically you’ll be on the job market a lot sooner
than you’d like to be if you don’t think about the type of environment in which you’ll be happy
and successful. So, go ahead—be a little self-indulgent and think about what you really want in
a company culture. Just think of it as doing future-you a favor.