It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t take a job at a company where the culture does not fit your personality. Sure, the money might be great, but before too long, their decisions, assignments, interactions and attitudes will grate on your nerves. The question thus becomes how to ferret out the company’s culture so you can assess whether it will work for you.
Unfortunately, most of the blurbs on a company’s career page are of little help. It’s pretty typical to find oodles of vacuous clichés like, “You’ll advance your career,” “We truly care about our people” and “We have a culture of collaboration and trust.” Those all sound lovely, but is that what the culture is really like on a daily basis?
We know from the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve taken the test “What’s Your Organizational Culture?” that there are four primary corporate cultures:
- Social Culture: This organization is often relaxed and casual, and the line may be blurred between professional relationships and friendships.
- Dependable Culture: This company is very process-focused and predictable on a day-to-day basis.
- Enterprising Culture: This organization is a meritocracy where creativity and intelligence are valued, and the organization is competitive, even if the competition is friendly.
- Hierarchical Culture: This culture is hierarchical and traditional, where people both value and compete for power.
While some cultures are more beloved than others (e.g., more people prefer Enterprising than Hierarchical cultures), they all have their fans. In an ideal world, you would have someone at the company to which you’re applying take the test and share the results. But that’s usually not practical, so you’ll need to get a little crafty.
Two of the biggest differentiators between the four corporate cultures are whether the culture is more collaborative or competitive, and the extent to which the company prefers detailed planning or out-of-the-box thinking. You can get a rough assessment of those two issues pretty quickly in an interview by asking these two questions…