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Jun 30

How do I figure out a company’s culture?

Dear Recruiter,

I’m in the middle of interviewing right now and am getting a little worn down. I hear so much about being in the right organizational culture, but I’m having a tough time distinguishing between a great environment and people who are pretending. Any advice on how to tell the difference?

Thank you,


Hi Geoffrey,

Thanks for the email. Culture is an important factor in deciding on a job change, so you are correct in trying to decipher the culture you are stepping into.

Every company will claim a great culture, so the key is to look for the small clues that confirm or deny that claim. You’ll learn more by how things are said than what is actually said. Below are a few suggestions.

  • How do people interact when not in the formal interview? This can be seen either before or after the interview begins, as well as when sitting in the lobby, touring the office, walking through the break room, etc.
  • Ask to speak to a member or two of the team you’ll be joining. You can gain insight by speaking to these individuals, and you potentially learn more from them if they let you speak with them.
  • Ask questions during the interview about that person’s boss and co-workers. What are their strengths? Where can the team use help? You’re giving that person a chance to vent. Will they take the bait?
  • can be read but must be read with a grain of salt. What is lost on those reviews, especially the negative ones, is why that individual is no longer with the company. My experience is that usually those individuals are no longer there because of their performance.

Good luck to you, and please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help.