First and foremost is the layout of the office, as some may prefer to work in an open concept while others thrive when given their own cubicle or office. Candidates should also keep an eye out for how employees interact with each other; whether things seem very rigid and regimented or freer flowing and laid-back, and consider which would be the best fit for them.
But it’s not only about what’s visible in plain sight. Listen to how employees talk with each other. And, you can even learn about a company’s culture based on the smell of the office; specifically whether or not it smells like food.
“I know it sounds crazy, but if you have a culture where you need to eat meals at your desk, that’s a leadership problem,” says expert Piyush Patel. “I use that as a litmus test in my own leadership, because if people are eating at their desks we either don’t have a good plan or we’re scrambling when we should be scaling.”
2. Check the bathroom.
Another place many wouldn’t consider looking for clues on corporate culture is the bathroom, but Patel says a lot can be learned from its upkeep. He explains that restaurant inspectors and reviewers often use the condition of the bathroom as a likely indicator of the cleanliness of the kitchen, and he believes job candidates should do the same.
3. Consider the pace of the recruiting process.
A quick hiring process could mean the company just needs to fill a position as opposed to looking for a long-term employee. On the other hand, a long process also sends off bad signals regarding the company and how it works.
4. Ask tough questions.
Consider asking these questions to evaluate a company.
- Can you describe the last time you pursued a bold new idea as an organization?
- How has your approach evolved in recent years, and how did you go about implementing those changes?