Evaluating Organizational Fit

By Cathy Hammer

Many job seekers focus solely on whether their skills match the specific position for which they are applying.  For long-term results, it is equally important to examine the organization as a whole.  It won’t help your resume if you dread going to work each morning and quit after only a few months. Here are some tips for helping you determine if the company’s environment is going to support what you need to be successful.

Check out their internet buzz.

Now that every company not only has a webpage but also social media feeds and third party comments, there is no longer any reason not to know a great deal about them.  Start by reading their vision statement to see if it’s in line with your own goals.  Read their careers page and see how they describe their culture.  (If they don’t mention it at all, consider the possibility that this isn’t a priority for them).  Look for specifics.  Simply saying they are “high-achievers” or “a winning team” doesn’t tell you much.  “We look for self-directed individuals” and “we offer onsite yoga and dry-cleaning” tell you much more.  Finally, search for articles and trade publications that can give you an outside viewpoint of the company.  You might also scan posts by current and former employees, but keep in mind that these may be highly biased.

Take in the scenery.

You deserve to be excited about landing an interview, but don’t let your emotions carry you away.  Take advantage of being on location to conduct a little espionage.  Do they have “Fast Company” or “New Republic” in the waiting area?  Does their bulletin board feature flyers about a company picnic and their “Rebuilding Together” project, or sexual harassment training and the Heimlich maneuver?  Are the people leaving for lunch engaged in friendly conversation or vigorous arguments?  All these observations give you insight into a company’s priorities and personality.

Ask Questions about your “Must Haves”.

Don’t let your conversation with the HR representative become one-sided.  Show your interest and concern for fit by asking a few questions of your own.  Carefully weigh what you must have in the workplace and write a short checklist for yourself.  Is there variety?  Structure?  Camaraderie?  Recognition?  Listen carefully to the answers you are given and pay attention to your gut.  This will help you determine if you’ll get what you need to do your best work.

Here are some examples.

– What is a typical day like?  (Is there a typical day?)

– Are the work hours / location flexible?

– What is the process for setting quarterly goals?

– What is the anticipated growth track of this position?

– How do team members collaborate on a project?

– What training and skill building opportunities are available ?

– Is there an employee handbook or knowledge database covering this position?

Think you might benefit from some one-on-one coaching before you begin the interviewing process?  Please give us a call and schedule a talk.  We want to help you find the right fit, so the first meeting is on us.


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