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How to evaluate organizational culture

Identify corporate culture

Culture shock doesn’t just affect tourists bumbling through a foreign land — workers can experience it, too. That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your alarm goes off every morning, the sigh you let out as you park your car in front of the office and your flagging job performance could all be signs that you’re experiencing organizational culture shock.

Holly Rick, PhD, campus college chair for the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix Main Campus, suggests asking these five questions during your next job interview to determine if a company is a good fit:

Are salaries and benefits on par with those of competitors?

You should be paid what you’re worth. If a potential employer is offering low pay and a slim benefits package, Rick has one piece of advice: “Run.”

In certain situations, however, it would be acceptable to take a position with a sub-par salary. “Sometimes,” Rick says, “you have to take a step down to get to the next level in your career.” She offers good work-life balance as another possible reason for taking a pay cut.

Does the company cover professional development?

Benefits like tuition reimbursement and on-the-job training show that a potential employer cares about your career growth and morale. “Most companies don’t put enough effort into building relationships with their employees,” Rick says, “the same people they’re asking to spend more of their waking hours at the office than they do at home.”

What does the work environment look like?

According to Rick, a dirty or drab environment sends a clear message that the employer doesn’t care about you. “I’ve walked out of interviews where the office was dirty and the employees were frowning,” she adds, “because I knew that I didn’t want to work in a place like that.”


Can I speak with other employees as part of my interview?

Be wary of any organization that prevents you from getting a firsthand account of what it’s like to work there, or insists on conducting the interview away from the office.

“You want to meet your [potential] co-workers,” Rick says, “because you’re going to be in their shoes. If you can’t talk to current employees, they’re probably overworked — or there’s a management issue.”

Does the company promote from within?

Possibly the biggest red flag of all is a company that promotes from the outside. “It’s a dead-end job,” Rick says. “As a job seeker, I would really need to evaluate the possibility of working in a position with zero opportunity for growth.”