Understanding company culture
How to make sure your interview and first days go smoothly
Understanding the company culture is a key driver in success in securing a new job as well as excelling in your role once you get there. Interviewers are of course looking for candidates with the right qualifications and experience, but are also importantly looking for people who share the organisation's values and will fit in easily with its current teams. Embodying this magical combination of factors will allow you to settle in quickly, form great working relationships and begin producing results right from the start.
Company culture is unlikely to be something you will find a in a nice neat paragraph on their site that you can swat up on the day before interview. Getting a good initial understanding of this will require a little more digging. We recommend spending some time on the organisation's website, as well as following their social media accounts, and reflecting back on your interactions with their employees so far. This all combined will form a good idea of the organisation's values, how they operate day to day and how they like to be perceived; things that form company culture.
Now you have a good handle on this, think about how your personality and skills align with theirs and can help the organisation to achieve its goals. It is a good idea to mention this in your covering letter to ensure you stand out from all the others just as qualified and experienced as you.
A key benefit of this research process is that it can help you to decide whether or not the organisation is right for you. It may sound strange to some but it's only worth applying for a job if your values and way of working align with those of the organisation you're applying to. If you are not really bothered about what they do or why they do it, and they seem to take a great pride in it, then perhaps it's not for you.
Dress the part: They say you can never overdress for an interview, but sometimes you can. Yes you want to be smart and appear like you've made the effort, but if you're looking to work in a particularly creative or laid-back environment, then the sharp suit might be a stark contrast to the jeans your interviewer is wearing. For more detailed sector specific advice on interview attire, check out our guide: Dress for Success »
Whether it's loud, outgoing and lengthy, or clear, considered and concise or somewhere in between. Make sure you're seen as someone who can communicate the way that is generally practiced in that organisation.
Your first day
From your research and interview(s), you should now have a very good understanding of the standards expected of you in the workplace, so before you start, take some time to consider a few things that'll make sure you set off on the right foot:
- What do people wear there? Do you have suitable clothes for the job? Make sure you have a good selection of suitable outfits for your first week.
- What is the office environment like? Friendly and chatty, or head-down and work hard? Whatever it is, be aware of how to fit in. You don't have to change your personality, but do be wary of ruffling feathers on your first day.
- How do they communicate? Many workplaces are very quiet and rely on email, while others are very personable. There may be set methods of doing various things, so be aware of these and you'll fit into the existing dynamic with more ease.
Obviously being comfortable day-to-day is a key part of being successful in your new job, so we're not suggesting that you try to be someone you're not. But knowing the way things run and ingratiating yourself to your new colleagues, not to mention your boss, is a good way to make the most of your first few days. There's usually a lot of learning to do on a new job, and being on the same page as your team and having them on your side should make this all a lot easier
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