Before the interview
Ask your network: Use LinkedIn, Jigsaw, and other networking tools to query your network and determine if anyone has worked at the company or knows someone who does who you can audit about the culture.
- Invite current employees of the company to join your network and ask for their first-hand experience with the company.
- Check out the Web site and see if they have any employee testimonials. If so, do they seem authentic or scripted?
During the interview
Observe everything: Evaluate all that you see and hear and everyone you meet during the interview process beginning when you walk in the door. Consider things like:
- First impression: What is the office space like, and can you see yourself working in it?
- Dresscode: Are current employees dressed professionally or business casual, or do they look like they just rolled out of bed?
- Energy level: Is the office buzzing, quiet, or chaotic?
- Personal Effects: Do people have pictures, toys, and other forms of self expression in their work area?
- Desktops: Do staffers have the latest laptops, 80s desktops, or something in between?
Question everything: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the culture, and the things you are seeing and hearing. Consider things like:
- Company behavior: Do they promote from within, sponsor team lunches, encourage professional development? If the interviewer answers yes to any of these questions, ask for specific examples.
- Ask each person you meet to describe the company culture and notice if you get consistent responses.
- Ask each person you meet with how long they have been with the company.
- If you feel you haven’t met enough people, ask if there are other members of the organization you can speak to about their experience.