Tag Archives: Company Culture

Clues to Uncover Corporate Culture, Article by Barbara Safani

“I often remind my clients that when they are interviewing for an open position, they are interviewing the employer as much as the employer is interviewing them. By paying attention to the subtle clues in the office environment, job seekers can gain a better perspective on the culture of the company or division and make more informed decisions about how they’ll fit. Here are a few tips to help you size up the work environment of the company you are interviewing with.

1. If possible, schedule your interview early in the morning, late in the day or during lunchtime.

When you arrive, look around and see who else is there at that time. If you have an early morning or early evening appointment and the office is packed, chances are that the culture is one that expects long hours. If you interview during lunch and everyone seems to be eating at their desks, that could be a clue about the culture of the organization. If you are interviewing with a company that has a company parking lot, observe how full the lot is during these hours to determine if late nights or early mornings are part of the culture of the entire organization.

2. Ask to do a walk-through of the office.

If you have made it to the second round of interviews, consider asking to see the office space. This allows you to canvass the physical space, but again gives you important clues about the office culture. Is the setup cubicle-style, big open spaces, windowed offices or a lot of closed doors? Does the space appear clean and well maintained, and feel like a place where you would feel comfortable and safe?

3. Make small talk with the receptionist.

This is important for several reasons. Many hiring authorities ask the receptionist his impressions of candidates who come in to apply for jobs. Make sure his first impression of you is positive. Through your conversation, you may gain valuable tidbits of information or see firsthand what types of people come through the reception area and how they interact with each other.

4. Note any interruptions during the interview.

Again, this could be a sign of what it’s like to work in that particular environment. Did your interview start on time or were you kept waiting? Is the interview conducted in a quiet environment behind closed doors? Does the person interviewing you interrupt the flow of the meeting to take phone calls? Does the interview end abruptly due to some sort of office crisis? While there are some hiring authorities who ‘stage’ interruptions to see how you deal with them, I truly believe that for the most part these are not planned. Instead, this can be indicative of the department’s culture or the hiring manager’s style.

5. Observe preferred communication styles.

How were the interview and follow-up meetings arranged? Were they set up by e-mail, phone or snail mail? Does the company prefer one-on-one or group interview formats? Did the hiring manager give you any technical tests or assessments as part of the interview process? By observing the different ways companies interview and gather information, job seekers can begin to uncover how information is managed and validated by members of the organization.

Of course, no interview scenario is perfect, and I’m not suggesting that you penalize a company or hiring authority if a glitch occurs during the interview. But it is important to observe the rhythm of the office and factor that information into your decision. What have you observed during your interviews, and how has that information influenced your feelings about a company or a job?”

This article was written by Barbara Safani, owner of CAreer Solvers. Ms. Safani has has over 12 years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching and organizational development. She is a triple-certified resume writer and author of “Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips for Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future.”


bitmoji1895589661This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Recommit to Your Job Search During the Holiday Season


Many people may make the decision to slow down their job search activities during the holiday season. These people may think employers are too busy to think about hiring new employees because they are preoccupied with year-end tasks or are taking time off to spend with family and friends.

This is a mistake. The hiring process may slow down during the holidays but it does not stop. Companies are interviewing and extending offers to the most qualified candidates. Are you taking advantage of the opportunities resulting from the void left by job seekers who have abandoned their job search and headed to the mall?

An argument can be made that you may even benefit from pursuing your job search during the busy holiday season.

  1. There may be less competition for positions because many job seekers are on holiday.
  2. Some employers may be in a rush to onboard new hirers before the end of the year or immediately after the new year.

The holiday season is also a great time to refresh your job search efforts. You should review your marketing materials and business cards, reassess your short and long-term goals (including researching your target companies), update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and practice your interviewing skills and networking speech.

Here are a few thoughts you should keep in mind when practicing your interviewing skills.

  1. Interviewers will rate your educational background and prior work experience. They will want to know if you have (a) the appropriate educational qualifications or training for the position and (b) acquired, in your previous work assignments, the skills and qualifications needed to succeed in the position.
  2. Employers may also test your knowledge of the company. Have you researched the company prior to the interview? Have you looked on the internet, including the company’s website, read their Twitter feed and Facebook account, looked up comments from former employees on glassdoor.com, and read the interviewer’s LinkedIn page?
  3. Interviewers will be interested in how well you will fit with the company culture. They will be interested in your personality, manner, attitude and whether you made a good first impression. Be yourself and let your personality and charisma shine. You want to project a warm, open and accepting attitude that attracts others.
  4. Keep in mind that potential employers may want a candidate who works effectively with other. Are you able to convey to an interviewer that you have outstanding interpersonal relationship abilities and perception? Do you have an exceptional ability to organize your thoughts and make decisions which exhibit sound judgment and common sense? Are you a self-starter who can motivate others but recognize that there are times when team work is best?
  5. Do not forget your S*T*A*R* stories. Depending on the story you choose, you will be able to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have the technical skills necessary for the position, good team building and interpersonal skills, a high degree of initiative, good management skills, a high level of customer service abilities, your greatest strengths, and the value that you will bring to the company. “S” stands for situation. You must describe the situation with enough detail so that the interviewer understands the specific event that was at issue.
    “T” is the task you needed to accomplish.
    “A” is the action that you took to accomplish the task.
    “R” are the results that you achieved. The results do not have to be yours alone if you worked with a group to resolve the task.

Perhaps most importantly, the holidays offer the perfect opportunity to establish new connections and refresh your existing network. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google to reconnect with distant relatives, former co-workers, neighbors, schoolmates and friends and to expand your network. Expand your network by meeting new people at holiday parties and  your child’s year end school play or holiday concert.

Do not let the gifts of the season pass you by.

Now, get to it . . .


Determining Whether a Company’s Culture is the Right Fit

Company culture is the personality of an organization. It is the values, behaviors, and beliefs held by the employees of a company.

Before you can know if a company’s culture is the right fit, you have to know what you want or need in the work environment. In other words, you have to get to know yourself in order to define the type of culture you want in the workplace.

Begin by listing the values that are most important to you in life and at work. Ask yourself, is money most important or a generous benefit package? Are you concerned with the length of the commute or the location of the office? Perhaps it is the potential for advancement, the opportunity for travel or the thrill of a challenge that interests you.

Next, identify your most marketable job skills. Do you have administrative, supervisory or management skills? Are you an organizational genius or a talented presenter, trainer, or public speaker? Is your strength in public relations and marketing? Are you a relentless research analyst with excellent compilation and writing skills?

Be honest about any problem areas or skills that need improvement. For example, are you a procrastinator? Do you have difficulty managing your time or staying on task? Are your skills outdated?

Once you have identified the values and marketable job skills most important to you, you are ready to research the company to determine whether the culture is right for you. An effective search will require you to:

Scour the internet for annual reports and other public documents (if it is a public company). Also look for news reports, press releases, and human interest stories. Check out social media sources such as the company’s Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and You Tube videos.

Talk to anyone you know who works or worked for the company or has a sister, brother-in-law or best friend who works or worked for the company. Websites like Glassdoor.com provide a forum for former employees to post comments about companies.

Observe the people around you. Watch how the people in the company interact with one another and with you.

Ask questions. The interviewer can describe the culture of the organization or department including the leadership or managerial style, the manner in which conflict is handled, and the qualities of successful employees.

The interview provides the recruiter with the opportunity to assess your skills and capabilities. The interview provides you with the opportunity to determine whether your values and beliefs align with the company culture.

Now, get to it . . .

This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut, with extensive human resources experience. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. I am not an expert in any of the areas of job search. I am writing to share my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

The 10 Million Most Important Interview Questions

As if the application process is not difficult enough, now its time to prepare for the interview. But how?

Despite receiving tens, if not hundreds, of applications from candidates all possessing the required skills and qualifications to do the job, employers conduct about three telephone interviews and three in-person interviews per position. This is according to a Candidate Behavior Study presented by CareerBuilder.com. In addition,

73% of employers say that less than 50% of the candidates make it past the initial screening or phone interview.

67% of employers say that of the candidates who manage to make it through the initial screening or phone interview, about 50% are eliminated after a bad in-person interview.

Interview questions run the gamut from open-ended questions (tell us about yourself and why should we hire you?) to odd ball, Barbara Walters-sque, questions (why are tennis balls fuzzy?, why are manhole covers round? and if you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?).

How will you stand out from the crowd?

There are literally hundreds of online and print resources professing to know the 100 most commonly asked interview questions or the 50 the most important interview questions. There are even multiple experts claiming to know the “smartest answers” to the 10 million potential interview questions.

The fact is that familiarizing yourself with hundreds of potential interview question or memorizing the “smartest answers” to interview questions is probably not enough to impress a recruiter or hiring manager. To distinguish yourself from the hundreds of other qualified and capable applicants who responded to the same posting, you must convince the HR gatekeeper that you are a good fit for the company’s culture.

What is company culture?

Wikipedia defines company culture as having to do with the behavior of the people “within an organization and the meaning that the people attach to those behaviors.” In other words, company culture is the personality of the company – its values, belief systems, underlying assumptions and biases, interests, and the experiences shared by the staff.

Some of the questions an interviewer might ask to determine whether you will be a good cultural fit for the company are:

What are the characteristics of the best supervisor you ever had or wished that you had?

Describe the management style that will bring out your best work and efforts.

Describe what you believe are the most effective roles that a good manager plays in his or her relationship with direct reports.

Do you prefer working alone or as apart of a team?

When you work with a team, what role are you most likely to pay on the team?

Knowing and understanding the company’s culture will give you an edge over the competition. If you understand the company culture you can assure the recruiter or hiring manager that you can relate to and support the organization in a meaningful and productive way. For the same reason that one would not enlist in the military without first understanding the missions, ideals and core values of the military culture, job seekers must understand the organizational culture of a prospective employer.

Information about a company’s culture is available from a number of different and diverse resources. Start with the company’s website and then move on to Google, LinkedIn, and glassdoor.com. According to CareerBuilder.com, 94% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn. Information may also be available on the company’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

Now, get to it . . .